Speaking to Cycling Central on the eve of the elite men’s individual time trial world championship in Doha, Qatar, yesterday, he identified with a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio’s despaired character.
“It showed a picture of him getting into his Lamborghini - when he was not in the best of shape - and had the caption of ‘never give up’. That pretty well sums up my 2016,” Dennis said.
The 26-year-old rarely misses a bullseye once he has identified a target but has this year fired wayward shots.
Snapped handlebars dismantled his chances of medalling in the time trial at the Rio Olympic Games while a crash ended his title campaign in the leader’s jersey on the final stage of Eneco Tour last month.
“I actually said if I get a puncture or something happens in the time trial I’ll just get in the [team] car. Season’s done. It’s just done!” Dennis said.
The deft South Australian was repeatedly careful not to jinx today’s 40km coveted title event he is looking to podium in. His power output in the weekend’s team time trial was greater this year when his BMC squad claimed silver than last year when it won gold.
The musing about getting in the car today should misfortune strike again was exactly that when you consider Dennis did finish the time trial at the Rio Olympics, which was the pinnacle of his season, because “you might still medal”.
“I had to get on another bike and go 100 per cent to the finish line, you never know what will happen still. I just had to not give up,” he said.
“I want to prove that I should have at least been on the podium, at least silver in Rio. That’s one thing I’ve wanted to do since the bars breaking in Brazil.
“This week, if all goes well, I’ll be on the podium no worries and it will prove to myself I would have been there anyway, it was just a matter of bad luck. It hasn’t been a good year for luck.”
Dennis has tried to observe a more relaxed approach in the lead-up to the world titles, enjoying life within reason of his final season target, even if he is cautious to call it that.
“After Rio the stress is gone,” he said.
“If I was out with a friend and they asked ‘do you want a drink?’ I wouldn’t say, ‘no, I’ve got to be on the regime, I’ve got to be serious,’ I said, yeah, I’ll have a beer, or a bottle of wine with dinner, we’ll enjoy it.
“Once I freshened up and stopped worrying about everything I could actually perform mentally and physically to my best. I’m just trying to keep that ball rolling for now.
“Every now and then I’ll kick back into the mode of, ‘I need a win, ‘I need a win’ but most of the time I’ve said to myself, it’s out of your control, perform like you have recently and it should end well.”
The individual time trial course in Doha is the same as that of the team event Dennis has “done way too many times to enjoy it anymore”.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” he said. “For the team time trial we had to brake a little bit on the corners but not too much, there was only a select few that we really had to look out for.
“It was probably a good thing to have the team time trial on the same course because you’re never going to go that fast in the individual. It was good to hit it over speed, to a really fine limit and see what you can do for an individual beforehand.”
Luke Durbridge will also represent Australia in the elite men’s individual time trial world championship today.