With 1.1km to race only Dennis could follow the wheel of Porte.

Defending champion Dennis plus Porte to lead BMC Racing Team charge in Santos Tour Down Under

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The 2015 winner Rohan Dennis and new signing Richie Porte have both said they will make their WorldTour race debut next season in the Santos Tour Down Under, with the duo spearheading the BMC Racing Team charge in the race.

Dennis was best in this year’s edition, beating then-Sky rider Porte by two seconds and his own team-mate Cadel Evans by 20.

He had aimed for a strong start to the season, partly due to his plans to go for the world hour record.

This time around, he indicates that he might not be in the same condition.

“My goals have changed for the season compared to 2015. I think the best way to go into it is thinking about Rio and later on in the season, and see what happens,” he said.

“We’ve got a really strong team and it will be good to have myself there as well as Richie.”

Porte is more up front about having ambitions for the race. He’s looking at a stage win, but knows that if he achieves that the overall might also be possible.

“To start with the Tour Down Under is the best possible way to start,” he said.

“Having won the past two years on Willunga Hill, why not go for the trifecta? With Rohan and I there I think we’re going to have a great team, so I’m really looking forward to taking on a challenging race.”

They will be backed by Marcus Burghardt, Alessandro De Marchi, Floris Gerts, Danillo Wyss and Peter Velits.

Allan Peiper will be the directeur sportif and recognises that with two big Australian riders on the team, there will be plenty of fans anticipating a good showing.

“The expectation from the public and the cycling world will be high. That puts a bit of pressure on us but we’re coming with a good team to support those two riders,” he said, referring to Dennis and Porte.

“The most critical stages for Richie and Rohan will be the two climbing stages, with Corkscrew Hill and Willunga Hill in there.”

The BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said that the team had identified two key goals.

“The first is to defend the title and the other is to see how Richie can come in as he was second last year. It’s also the first WorldTour event for the season so a good performance in Adelaide will give us a good start for 2016.”

The 2016 programme of racing begins with the Down Under Classic on Sunday January 17.

Two days later, the Santos Tour Down Under begins and runs until the following Sunday.

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