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World hour record holder Rohan Dennis has admitted that he found watching Thomas Dekker’s attempt to set a new mark on Wednesday as being ‘nerve-racking,’ with some tense moments being followed by eventual relief that he still held top slot.
The Australian rider set a mark of 52.491 kilometres in Switzerland on February 8. Decker went to altitude to gain an edge and went close to breaking that record, finishing just 251 metres behind.
Dennis said that he viewed the bid while in an airport and was on the edge of his seat at times.
“I was watching it on a live stream and Twitter, sort of trying to get an idea of where he was in compared to my hour record,” he said.
“It was a little bit nerve-racking, to be completely honest. I was watching people’s tweets that were saying he was holding 53 kph for 30 minutes. I was thinking that was pretty quick. Then when I saw 52 a while after that, I sort of started to relax a little bit. I was thinking I don’t need to watch this and stress so much anymore.
“But it was a bit of a wake-up call when I saw that he finished within about 250 meters of me, which is a lap.”
Dennis won the Santos Tour Down Under in January and then took his hour record two weeks later. He has rested up since then but is a late addition to the BMC Racing Team squad for this weekend’s Classic Sud Ardèche on Saturday and Drôme Classic on Sunday.
He said that the additions to his programme were unexpected, but that he is taking things in a relaxed way.
“At the moment, [my goals are] just to sort of float around and help the team,” he said. “I was not initially supposed to race until Paris-Nice but the team is a little bit short and I was asked to help out.
“I didn’t think it would be such a bad thing to be with the guys, have some fun and get a little racing under the belt again.”
Dennis said that he always intended to take a break after his hour record, noting that he had a busy start to the season and wanted to make sure that he was in strong form for May, June and hopefully July. He felt it was impossible to hold form from February until then and so the wisest thing was to back off and then build up again.
In his time off he had three to four days away from his bike, going to the world track championships in Paris to watch his girlfriend Melissa Hoskins compete. She was part of the four woman Australian squad that smashed the world record and dominated the team pursuit, making the trip a worthwhile one for him.
After watching her take the gold medal, Dennis said that he went to Germany to get a bike fitting done and then started to build things up again in advance of his first race back.
Dennis is curious to see how his performance level is after his big efforts at the start of the season. He is hoping that the hour record will bring him on as a rider.
“I have noticed a little bit of a difference,” he said. “I don’t know if it was just because I finally had a bit of a break after the Tour Down Under. There was a big build-up to that and I was training quite hard. But I found that I have gone to another sort of level.
“It has thrown me off a little bit because I am training quite well. At the same time, everything points to me not training so well. So it is sort of weird. I don’t know if I have stepped it up or if I just have good form at the moment. I guess we will find out on Saturday and Sunday.”
He has indicated that he might be open to the thought of returning again to the hour record at some point in the future. Asked if he would make any changes to how he did things this time around, he said that scheduling of the event would be one thing he’d like to modify.
“Maybe just change it to a different time of year – like after a Grand Tour,” he said.
“I would come in and do a full track preparation, maybe for a longer period of time. So four or five weeks of specific track stuff and really get everything dialled down to make sure I am absolutely going 110 percent for the hour record.
“There were only a few little minor things [to change] as far as the pacing. But I think the main thing is doing it when you are physically at your peak.”