South Australia’s Rohan Dennis emphatically defended his time trial world title in a stunning performance at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old dominated the 54-kilometre individual race against the clock from start to finish, taking the world champion’s rainbow jersey by more than one minute.
“It might have looked easy out there today, but there has been a lot of work off the bike behind the scenes to get myself ready for today,” said Dennis. “I am happy that I have been able to produce what I knew I could to get these rainbows back..
“It really shows that I am not going anywhere. That I am here to win, and I am here to continue winning in the future.”
The final rider of 57 to take to the 54-kilometre course from Northhallerton to Harrogate, Dennis powered to a 19 second advantage over teenage sensation Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) at the first time check at the 16.7 kilometre mark.
Maintaining a steady rhythm and pace set by his coaches, Dennis extended his margin to more than a minute at the 37-kilometre checkpoint.
Dennis continued his momentum through the technical, undulating sections outside of Harrogate before soaring to a second straight rainbow jersey in a time of 1hour 05:05secs, 68-seconds ahead of Evenepoel with Filippo Ganna (Italy) a further 45 seconds back.
“I only saw the course for the first time last Saturday, and we loved it instantly. My coach Brad said I was made for it,” remarked Dennis. “I was confident before the race as I knew we had hit all of the numbers in training.
“So today there was nothing left but to let the legs do the talking. I knew I had done all the work and to execute what I could on the road.
“And I was comfortable with my pace from the start. When I saw I was up by 20 seconds, I felt good. Then I was up by 60, so I knew just had to stay calm, keep a good rhythm and don’t take risks down the hill.
“It was a really nice course so whoever designed it, thanks for that – good job!”
Dennis’ preparation for his title defence in Yorkshire was remarkably different to that of twelve months ago with a steady diet of training blocks feeding his pursuit for a second rainbow title.
“It has been the toughest period of my career, it was almost breaking,” revealed Dennis, who enjoyed an emotional celebration with wife Melissa and eight-month-old son Oliver at the finish. “To have my family here this year was so special. My wife is an angel.
“While I have been home for the last ten weeks, it has been tough for both of us. There have been testing times, with ten weeks between races, there were a couple of times I’d throw in the towel.
“But I have a lot of great people in my corner, pushing me to keep my head on. So thank you to my wife, my coach, my psychologist.
“It was a team effort, and that’s really why I was so emotional. A lot of people helped me get here, so it’s great to repay them.”
Dennis’ considerable winning margin allowed time for a victory salute as he crossed the line, with the Adelaide cyclist pointing to his head as a reminder about what lead him to the victory.
“I was reminding myself today was all in my head,” Dennis said. “It was the work I did off the bike on my mental state to make sure I am strong mentally, and that is what got me through today.
“I’ve done a lot of work with my sports psychologist David Spindler. I mean physically I have always had it, but it was always the negativity in my head thinking not the positive things.
“And out there today I didn’t waiver once which I had struggled with all year up until today. That work has been super important, and today, we nailed it.”
In what was his thirteenth consecutive year representing the green and gold, a journey which began with ninth in the junior time trial at the 2007 World Championships, Dennis thanked his supporters in Australia.
“Australia is always backing me through the tough times and the good times,” he added. “It is good to have that support from the national body Cycling Australia.
“I have been a part of this team at every World Championships since 2007. It has been a good, long-lasting relationship, so let’s keep it going.”
Reigning Australian champion Luke Durbridge, the 2009 junior and 2011 under 23 world champion, finished thirteenth, three minutes behind Dennis.
Dennis and Durbridge will now switch the focus to Sunday’s 280km road race where they will team with 2015 world championship silver medallist Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Mitchell Docker (EF Education First), Nathan Haas (Team Katusha Alpecin), Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) and Rory Sutherland (UAE-Team Emirates).