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BUNINYONG, Australia (CT) – Rohan Dennis (BMC) will wear the green and gold bands of Australian time trial champion for a third year running after a dominant win in Buninyong today.
In hot condititions, Dennis blasted through the 40.9km out-and-back course in a time of 51:13, stopping the clock 1:08 ahead of silver medallist Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) and a further 35 seconds clear of bronze medallist — and teammate — Richie Porte.
Dennis took a different approach to his lead-in to the Australian summer this time around, but that approach appears to have paid dividends.
“I’ve been in Europe a lot longer,” the South Australian said. “The main concern was the heat for me and how I was going to cope today. So I’m glad I handled it quite well and came home with the win.”
Dennis had been the last rider to roll down the start ramp and set out to reel in those ahead of him on the road. Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) set the early mark, before being trumped by Katusha-Alpecin recruit Nathan Haas.
Haas’ time of 53:36 earned him a spell in the hot seat before Porte came through 38 seconds faster. But when Dennis crossed the line just behind teammate Miles Scotson, it was enough to put 27-year-old Dennis at the top of the leaderboard and out of reach of his rivals.
Dennis will now turn his attention to Sunday’s road race, where he’ll join Porte, Scotson and BMC recruit — and two-time former winner — Simon Gerrans on the startline. The addition of Gerrans makes BMC the team to beat, but Mitchelton-Scott will still provide a formidable challenge.
“Obviously we’re still lacking numbers compared to [Mitchelton-Scott] but we’ve got quality that’s for sure,” Dennis said. “We did take the race car with Simon [Gerrans] so that’s a good start for us, I think.”
After the Nationals, Dennis will head to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under and then Geelong for Cadel’s Race. He’ll then build up towards the Giro d’Italia via Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie.
And while today’s victory shows Dennis is on the right path for a big season ahead, winning the green and gold is more an issue of personal pride.
“Coming here and winning it and wearing it for the rest of the year is a bit of an honour, more than anything,” Dennis said. “It’s hard to win obviously, with guys like Richie and Durbo and Miles [Scotson] even — up and coming, he’s improving every year.
“It’s not easy to win this race.”
The Australian Road National Championships continue in Buninyong tomorrow with road races for the U19 men and women and the U23 men. The elite women and men will take to the circuit on Sunday.