2015 Santos Tour Down Under winner, Dennis is confident about his success in 2016 and said that Australian riders are in top form this year.
Dennis confirmed that Australian riders Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE), Richie Porte (BMC), Cameron Myer and Nathan Haas (both Dimension Data) will be stiff competition throughout the Tour.
“Gerrans you can’t go past. Obviously Richie, he’s always good, but he’s my team-mate. There are always a couple more guys, Cameron Myer and Nathan Haas, Australians in general are very strong in nationals,” he said.
When asked what sets Australian riders apart from their competitors, Dennis mentioned the often sweltering weather conditions that Australian riders are acclimatised to.
“We’re fit and we’re used to the heat, being from Australia. That’s our biggest advantage,” he said.
Dennis also attributed his confidence to a strong knowledge of local roads, but said that local knowledge alone will not win him the race.
“I know all these roads pretty well. I’ve trained on them since I was a junior and since I started riding.
“That sort of advantage is there and obviously Gerrans, Jack, Cam, Nathan, they’ve all been here plenty of times too, there are no new roads here that we haven’t been on before.
“That being said, local knowledge is not going to get me over the line first,” he said.
When asked what his biggest challenge this year will be, Dennis mentioned the Victor Harbor stage and the notorious Paracombe Corkscrew.
“In the Victor Harbor stage there will probably be cross-winds.
“On the Corkscrew stage, if I play the same card I did last year, which I shouldn’t have, and start at the back of the climb, I may not see the guys again and I could lose the race just on Stage Three.
“I have to be very attentive and not get caught out in minor little details and things like that,” he said.
While acknowledging that he presents a big challenge to other cyclists, Dennis said that the pressure to win for the second time could also work against him.
“It’s going to put pressure on someone else that’s for sure. I’m not going to stand here and say that I’m the favourite; there are guys out there who have just as good form, maybe even better and they’re trying to release that pressure from them and put it back on me.
“I’m going to feel the pressure I put on myself, that I want to win again and make history. But look if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” he said.
Dennis said that while winning the Santos Tour Down Under is one of his goals this year, the Rio Olympics will be his ultimate challenge.
“The Tour Down Under is obviously one of my goals, to defend the title, but the Rio Olympics is only every four years.
“If I don’t win in Rio, I have to wait for Japan 2020,” he said.