• Rohan Dennis competes in the 13.8 km individual time-trial at the 2015 Tour de France (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Cadel Evans hopes Rohan Dennis can become a Tour de France contender, but said it will take a lot of time and work.

1 Dec 2015 - 7:34 AM 

Cadel Evans says it could take fellow Australian cycling star Rohan Dennis up to eight years before he can become a Tour de France contender.

Evans would love to see Dennis become a Grand Tour challenger, but said he faces the same tough transition that English great Bradley Wiggins had to work through.

Wiggins, like Dennis, started his career as a top-level pursuit rider on the track and that led directly to strong road time trial form.

But Wiggins had to strip away body weight and overhaul his training before he was light enough and had the right power-to-weight ratio to be competitive day after day on the big Tour climbs.

Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011 and a year later, Wiggins was the first British rider to achieve the feat.

Dennis won this year's Australian cyclist of the year award after a stellar season in which he won the Tour de France opening stage time trial with a race-record average speed.

Dennis also broke the world hour record on the track and won Adelaide's Tour Down Under.

He and fellow Australian star Simon Gerrans are the first two big names confirmed for the second Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race, to be held on January 30-31.

Dennis and Gerrans confirmed for Cadel Road Race
The second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race will be held at the end of January, with Rohan Dennis and Simon Gerrans confirmed starters.

"If you look at what Brad Wiggins did, you could say, well, it's possible for Rohan, he can," Evans said.

"A pursuit rider can win the Tour de France.

"For a guy to make that big a change physically and mentally, there's a lot of work behind that ... it consumed a lot of him (Wiggins).

"I won't say Rohan can't win the Tour de France - the question is does he want to and is he willing to sacrifice, probably, it would be maybe a six- or eight-year sacrifice."

He and Dennis were teammates at BMC in the last few months of Evans's stellar career.

Evans retired at the inaugural race held in his name and now he is focussed on promoting the event.

The men's race on January 31 has earned a promotion to one level below the top WorldTour status and organisers also aim to develop the women's January 30 event to the top level.

"If we did that (WorldTour) in our third year, it would be a bit of a dream progression," Evans said.

"But I don't know if that's a realistic one.

"So let's focus on putting on a good event."

The men's race next January will have nine WorldTour teams, up from six this year.

Evans noted that early-season races such as his event and the Tour Down Under were becoming more important.

Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome will start his racing season at the February Herald-Sun Tour in Victoria.

"Cycling is changing ... now we see Chris Froome is going to altitude camps in December.

"Five years ago, in my period of time, my altitude phases were starting in April."