The Tour Down Below has been a cornerstone of Rohan Dennis’ profession. It’s the place in 2012 he delivered a efficiency that helped catapult him to the WorldTour, it’s the place he secured his first stage and total victories in that high tier and it is now the place he’ll line up on Tuesday on the prologue together with his eyes as soon as once more firmly set on the general podium.
The South Australian rider first competed at his dwelling race in 2010, then once more two years later when his fifth place on the GC and first place within the youth and mountains classification introduced WorldTour groups knocking.
Since 2014, Dennis hasn’t as soon as missed an version, not even when it was off the worldwide calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic and run as a home occasion as an alternative in 2021 and 2022. There isn’t any place like dwelling, it appears, for the 32-year-old.
“I’m all the time glad to place my hand up,” stated Dennis of his common appearances on the Australian WorldTour stage race. “I all the time remorse it round about November or December, not as a result of I do not just like the race however as a result of it places strain on me to be good from day dot.”
The draw, nevertheless, is obvious as he simply retains coming again. “There may be nothing like Adelaide I assume, for me.”
Dennis’ triumphed within the race in 2015, standing on the highest podium step flanked by Richie Porte and Cadel Evans and it is a victory that may’t quickly be forgotten as we sit in race headquarters at the Adelaide Hilton, the place coming into the foyer the names of previous winners are affixed to the entrance face of the entry steps and an enormous poster of Dennis within the ochre jersey is prominently positioned on a pillar.
Dennis has additionally completed within the high 6 on GC on 4 different events, together with his most up-to-date consequence within the WorldTour race a fourth total. This 12 months no less than one place higher is the intention.
“I do not understand how potential it will likely be to truly win. You by no means know till actually a few days in whenever you get a little bit of a take a look at,” Dennis instructed Cyclingnews, pointing to the late climb in stage two to Victor Harbour in stage 2 as “a great feeler” of the place everyone seems to be after which after which Corkscrew on stage 3 will “present quite a bit”.
“I am hoping what I’ve completed work-wise will likely be ok to be on the rostrum,” he stated. “It has been an extended previous stint since I used to be capable of get on the rostrum … However possibly with the prologue, it provides me a little bit of an edge.”
Energy of the prologue
The rationale the 2018 and 2019 World time trial title winner shouldn’t be surprisingly circumspect about how a lot of an edge that first day of racing within the WorldTour occasion will ship is that the prologue is simply 5.5km lengthy, and with no time trial bikes allowed.
“It’s kind of of an unknown,” stated the rider from Adelaide of racing in opposition to the clock on a street bike. “A number of us do not actually do TT’s on street bikes. The aerodynamics facet of it’s nearly thrown out of the window in some sense as a result of some guys are actually good with energy within the aero place, whereas different guys are usually not. That brings it extra again to a good enjoying discipline, I feel, which isn’t the perfect state of affairs for me.”
“Nonetheless there’s a component of energy talks and we have labored arduous on attempting to maximise that within the street place.”
That focussed method to the Tour Down Below was a part of the explanation Dennis opted to skip defending his Australian time trial title on the 37.5km Ballarat course earlier this month.
“Coaching has been quite a bit totally different this 12 months to different years, simply purely as a result of I haven’t got to be good over a 45-minute sustained effort,” stated Dennis. “It is one-off, it is excessive depth 3- to 10-minute efforts roughly and having the ability to again it up a number of instances throughout the day.”
Along with his tailor-made coaching Dennis is hoping Tuesday’s prologue will likely be his alternative to get the benefit within the race over climbers like Simon Yates (Crew Jayco AlUla) and Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe) after which maintain it, or no less than sufficient of it, by way of until the tip.
“I am hoping they go actually dangerous on Tuesday,” Dennis stated with a chuckle, the sunshine jocularity sneaking by way of into the interview on a lot of events regardless of the constructing race strain.
“However guys like Jai and Yates have nonetheless acquired that kick, that high-intensity punch, which is damaging … they nonetheless can kick and harm their opponents nevertheless it’s not suited particularly for them. I consider that somebody extra alongside the traces of Ethan Hayter, Daryl Impey or Michael Matthews will likely be a a lot larger risk – and I must also in all probability add Bevin – attributable to the truth that they’re quick finishers and might recover from these shorter, more durable climbs, which could be very troublesome, and might go fairly properly in brief prologues and TT’s.”
The inclusion of the prologue is not all that is modified within the racing dynamic. There may be after all no Richie Porte, who together with his dominance of the climb of Willunga has helped him safe first on the general twice and second 4 instances.
On high of that new race director Stuart O’Grady has stamped his personal mark on the lengthy working occasion, switching up the course and this 12 months that implies that in addition to the now retired Porte being lacking, so is the Willunga climb that he and the Tour Down Below had develop into so intently related to. As an alternative there will likely be different ascending challenges all through, such because the shorter Corkscrew and Mount Lofty within the Adelaide hills, which supplies the finale for the six day occasion.
“It is extra of an open race this 12 months,” stated Dennis.
And that’s one thing the rider from Adelaide clearly plans to benefit from.