Rohan Dennis entered Stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia knowing the climb up Mount Etna would be a test of his developing Grand Tour ambitions.
Cycling Central

11 May 2018 - 9:42 AM 

The BMC rider knew he was not with the absolute best climbers but he answered questions about his toughness and rode to his abilities to finish just 53 seconds down on the new overall leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

"It was amazing to wear the pink jersey," Dennis said. "It was something I was hoping for but you never really expect it. Plus it was a massive bonus that it was the third Grand Tour leader's jersey that I have worn. However, even if it was my first one, it would have been just as special."

Chaves and Yates deliver a Etna one-two for Mitchelton-Scott
Mitchelton-Scott took control of the 2018 Giro d'Italia after Esteban Chaves won stage six at the top of Mount Etna and team-mate Simon Yates became the new race leader.

Etna was expected to shake up the general classification and it didn't disappoint with a battle on the steep ascent which saw Mitchelton-Scott put on a masterclass of tactical racing with Yates following home team-mate Esteban Chaves.

"Thinking about the Etna climb, I've still got some work to do obviously but I was actually pretty happy with my climb today," Dennis said. There were points when I was in trouble but I stayed calm and I actually rode back onto the group where the winners came from at the end of the day.

"I took confidence from the fact that they can go a little bit deeper than me, in terms of spikes in power, but they can't sustain it. I just need to keep reminding myself of that."

Dennis started the day, his fourth in the Maglia Rosa, with a one second advantage over defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and 17 seconds on Yates but with just one minute separating multiple contenders, it was a battle from the gun.

Attack after attack was launched from the peloton but no group was able to go clear until around the 50km mark, during which time the average pace was a blistering 46 kilometres per hour before 28 riders went clear.

"It was a bit crazy at the start. There was no control. We tried our best to set a tempo but no one really wanted to respect that," Dennis said. "We were all in the front but they all wanted to be in the breakaway today. We decided to sit back and let it work itself out and unfortunately 28 guys went up the road but you win some, you lose some.

The large group gained a maximum advantage of 3min 3Osec while behind BMC kept Dennis within range.

The real fireworks started with five kilometres to go when Chaves made his winning move but it took another two kilometres before Dennis started to lose touch with the most aggressive climbers.

He stayed calm and rode to keep any losses to a minimum, crossing the line just over a minute behind Chaves to stay well inside the top-ten in sixth place overall.

"Nothing changes after today. Obviously, I don't have the pink jersey but that's not an issue for me," Dennis said. "I knew that was going to happen eventually.

"I was hoping not today and that I would get a little bit more confidence from the race but there is still time. I am not that far behind the leaders. What I am thinking is that if I can stay somewhat within reach, I can hopefully still perform well and that the time trial will help me out."

Dennis joins select cycling club at Giro
Australia's Rohan Dennis has become only the third Australian to lead all three Grand Tours after taking the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia.