• Rohan Dennis at the Abu Dhabi Tour launch. (Getty)Source: Getty
Rohan Dennis favours stability over change so wasn’t initially happy when he received a late call-up to compete at the Abu Dhabi Tour in a season he’ll lead BMC at the Giro d’Italia.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
21 Feb 2018 - 1:26 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2018 - 1:28 PM

The five-stage race this year includes a 12.6km time trial, which was the impetus behind BMC’s decision to field the Australian national champion in the event that starts today.

Dennis will for the first time in his career compete at the Giro in May as a team leader, basing his whole program around meticulously preparing for the spectacle on the back of a last hurrah off-season and recent nuptials to Melissa Hoskins.

Speaking to Cycling Central at a pre-race press conference yesterday, the 27-year-old said he wasn’t convinced Saturday’s short time trial would be decisive enough to decide the Abu Dhabi Tour but was nonetheless committed to a shot at the overall.

“I don’t like my program being changed, it throws me off. I don’t like change. I like to have a set thing,” Dennis said in good faith.

“Once I got over that, I was okay for it but it was all about ensuring we adjust a few things around, so Abu Dhabi is now in here, what can we take out, how can we make this work for the Giro.

“Once we did that, my mind was clearer and I could actually think, what do I need for this race, to get a result and make it work for me.”

Rohan Dennis: ‘If you keep knocking on the door, one day it will open’
Rohan Dennis has worn the Tour de France yellow jersey and held the world hour record. But bad luck has kept him from Olympic and world championship glory. As he prepares to lead BMC at the Abu Dhabi Tour this week, Dennis spoke with Kieran Pender.

Dennis since the Rio Olympic Games has transitioned his focus on individual time trials to general classification racing and was last season a Plan B to Tejay van Garderen at the Giro.

“The Giro is the biggest goal for me this year. Then obviously Worlds,” he said.

Dennis has an edge on some of his rivals competing in Abu Dhabi, many of whom are unaccustomed to heat after a European winter, or, like Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), starting their seasons here.

The former Hour Record holder was conversely a fixture of the Australian summer racing period, starting the national titles, Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

“I hope a lot of them [rivals] aren’t used to any sort of heat. It’s not that hot here though, that’s the thing,” Dennis said. “If I came straight from Oz and it was 35C it would probably be good for me but I spent a week in Europe.”

Dennis arrived in the United Arab Emirates from a wintry Girona, Spain but tried to maintain heat acclimatisation while there.

“I’ve been wearing all my winter kit to try and keep it. I was sweating, I was covered in salt most days out training. I tried to keep my body feeling like it was overheating. Fingers crossed that is going to help here, and my legs and my form is still there,” he said.

The Abu Dhabi Tour opens with three sprint stages before the penultimate time trial and final day ascent to Jebel Hafeet, which should decide the title.