• Australia's Rohan Dennis powered into the race lead in the opening stage of the Tour de France (Getty Images) (AFP)Source: AFP
Rohan Dennis has become the seventh Australian to wear the maillot jaune at the Tour de France winning the opening time trial stage of the 102nd edition in record speed.
By
Sophie Smith

5 Jul 2015 - 6:35 AM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2015 - 9:17 AM

INTERACTIVE: AUSTRALIANS AT LE TOUR

The 25-year-old averaged 55.45km/h over the 13.8km course in Utrecht, The Netherlands to win the Grand Depart in 14 minutes and 56 seconds, besting former time trial world champions Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara, respectively.

Dennis grinned ear to ear in the hours of press interviews that followed his historic victory, the famed yellow jersey fitted to his bony shoulders and the plush toy lion associated with it in hand.

“A dream come true is the best way to put it,” he told journalists. “I’m in a very elite group of Australians who have worn the yellow jersey, and a former team-mate of mine, Cadel Evans, has won it so to be in that sort of group is a huge honour.”

Dennis smashes a Tour record to claim the yellow jersey
Australia’s Rohan Dennis claimed the opening stage of the Tour de France in Utrecht, Netherlands, taking out the time trial in record time to become the first wearer of the yellow jersey in the 2015 race.

Dennis added his name to the exclusive club of Aussies including Evans, Simon Gerrans, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Bradley McGee and Phil Anderson through sheer graft. 

The former UCI Hour World Record champion explained that he identified the Utrecht Grand Depart as a goal during a BMC training camp in December and had worked away at it since.

In the period between the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour last month he trained between 2pm-5pm, the hottest part of the day in European summer, to prepare for the searing temperatures that were predicted and eventuated on Saturday.

The Grand Depart and stage nine team time trial are objectives for Dennis, who is otherwise at the Tour to support overall contender Tejay van Garderen.

The American van Garderen, who finished 20th and 42 seconds in arrears, was elated for his team-mate, congratulating the coming of age specialist on his victory over social media.

Dennis joined BMC in a rarely used mid-season transfer last season and has marked some of his biggest career milestones with the squad since including a team time trial world championship, Tour Down Under title, UCI Hour Record, a stint in the leader’s jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine and the maillot jaune in his career second Tour de France participation.

“It did help a little bit getting used to the team, getting used to the directors, the way everything works, even the small details,” Dennis said of his amicable move from Garmin-Sharp.

“I didn’t have to jump to a different bike and possibly the position would be slightly different at the start of this year. I could make the transition and there was no pressure in the second half of last year to get results or anything, but this year it was, OK, now it’s time to put your foot down and work hard.”

The London Olympic team pursuit silver medallist Dennis has future aspirations to develop into a Grand Tour leader with BMC and said his record victory here in the Netherlands was a step in the right direction.

“Winning the yellow jersey in the first stage of the Tour de France is the first step to experiencing everything around that is much bigger than most races,” he said. “My long term goal in cycling is to win one of the Grand Tours. I’ve still got a long way to go but this is one step in the right direction.” 

 

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