• Rohan Dennis at the 2016 Tour de France. (Getty)Source: Getty
Rohan Dennis has asked his BMC team for a free role on career debut at the Giro d’Italia as he aims to improve his position as a future general classification contender.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
7 Dec 2016 - 8:38 AM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2016 - 1:10 PM

 The 26-year-old is eyeing effectively a Plan B opportunity at next year’s edition if American Tejay van Garderen does switch his attention to it, which may leave Aussie Richie Porte to take on the Tour de France as an outright leader.

“What I’ve put to the team, and they haven’t definitely put it in pen, it’s sort of in pencil, is that my goal is to basically go to the Giro,” Dennis said from his pre-season base in Adelaide, Australia.

“Maybe I will just go there, freelance and even if I’m down on GC just keep chugging away and get that feel of three weeks of looking after myself. That’s what I would like to do.”

Dennis spoke to BMC brass before the announcement of WorldTour team size reforms and is unsure if those will impact on his design due to be confirmed at a forthcoming training camp.

Fewer riders means more focussed racing says Dennis
Rohan Dennis has weighed in on the controversial decision to reduce Grand Tour team sizes from nine to eight riders in 2017, saying it might actually be counterintuitive to more exciting racing.

“I think the team is going to be going for Tejay at the Giro,” he continued. “If I don’t get any help that’s fine but I’ll be trying to float around where I think is the right spot and if someone is willing to help me out, within the team, I’ll take it.

“I think it’s a matter of trying to build that respect that I’m able to be there before actually asking for a team to fully back me.”

The Australian national time trial champion has competed in four Grand Tours, notably winning the first stage and first yellow leader’s jersey of the Tour de France in 2015, but has never started the Giro.

“It is a super hard Giro (next) year and things have to go right for the whole three weeks, especially for my first time that I’ve attacked a Grand Tour GC wise,” he said.

“I’m not going to aim too high. I think my first one, if everything goes right there is no reason why I shouldn’t be top 15, and I’d love to be top 10. I’d love to.”

Dennis believes the Giro, like the Vuelta, affords more room for movement, which could suit his ambition and van Garderen’s reported aim following the latter’s failed Tour de France as joint team leader alongside Porte this year.

“I think with the Tour you have to have a full team (in support) whereas the Vuelta and the Giro it’s a little bit more open,” Dennis said.

“From what I know when I did the (2014) Vuelta, it was a lot more aggressive than the three Tours I’ve started, a lot more open and people willing to risk a lot more than at the Tour.”

Dennis is already mindful of his build-up to May and how to manage that with his early season goals, starting with a national title defence in Australia next month.

“I’m going to still try and be fit in January, I can’t not be. If you start behind the ball it’s like you’re chasing that the whole season. I felt like I was doing that a lot this year,” he said.

“I feel good on the bike now, better compared to last year. I’m happy.”

The former UCI Hour Record holder is also scheduled to compete at the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race in South Australia and Victoria, respectively.

Dennis was clear on team leadership between he and Porte at the Tour Down Under, saying he’ll ride in support of his compatriot, who has finished second overall in as many years.

“We know Richie probably wants to win Tour Down Under, he’s probably sick of getting second, (so) I’ll be there as a helper I’m sure,” he said.

That support could also extend to the Tour de France, the extent to which may be influenced by what happens in Italy in May.

“Richie said he’d like to have me at the Tour and you don’t want to say definitely no, but I have to lean towards looking after myself maybe for a year or two, just to see where I’m at and what I have to do,” he explained.

“Maybe I go to the Tour but I do what Richie did, or try to do what Richie did with (Chris) Froome and help in the mountains more than just being an all-around helper in general.

"[I have to] get my mind around that and not bite off more than I can chew when it comes to if I go to the Tour, or any race here on in, look after myself a little bit more.”