Brainchild of Cycling Australia (CA) technical director Brad McGee, the informal meeting centred around Dennis sharing the knowledge that saw him crowned the time trial world champion in Innsbruck at the end of last year.
“It was really good, it was set up by Brad (McGee) and CA,” said the South Australian after riding the time trial national championships. “It was all about the future for time trialling and trying to develop it from the ground up. Basically, give my run through of my career, from the start to now. It hasn’t all been roses.”
Dennis is renowned for a poor run of luck during key moments in his time trial career, breaking equipment, suffering punctures and crashing at inopportune moments, but took an almost inevitable victory given his talent and determination.
The world champion proudly displayed the rainbow stripes on the podium and around Buninyong in the warm up for the race, including a matching jersey for his young son, who slept through the majority of proceedings.
He outlined the journey that brought him to this point to the riders that attended the event.
“It was 10 plus years to get to this, it wasn’t overnight,” said Dennis. “Just to reiterate that to the younger girls and guys and basically just say that it’s a work in process every year.”
The session also touched on the specifics Dennis uses to fine tune his time trial training, important in a discipline relying so much on small marginal gains that add watts, provide better aerodynamics and improve endurance.
“There was a little bit of that, also new technology like the Wahoo Kickr and whatnot and a little bit of my experience as well. You can take it on or not, you can take bits and pieces but if anyone’s smart they’ll take what they need and throw the other stuff off. Not everything is going to be for everybody.”
The meeting forms part of a grander strategy of Australian high performance cycling being a bit more cooperative, with elite riders sharing their knowledge with the younger generation. McGee is understood to be the driver behind the idea, but was unavailable for comment on the strategy.
Dennis was enthusiastic about the meeting and passing on what he's learned to the next generation, agreeing with the shift in CA’s thinking.
“100 per cent,” said Dennis. “There’s no negative to giving back to younger people and trying to make them better than me.
“Though it may hurt my career when I’m a little bit older! But, I can’t be in the sport forever and it’s nice to see some young guys pushing me along as well.”
A number of young riders were in attendance and took plenty out of the event, with Australian world championship junior representative and second-placed finisher in the Under 23 men’s time trial, Luke Plapp (Inform TM Insight MAKE) and elite women’s time trial winner, Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott), both channeling the experience into top rides on the course.
Stuart Shaw, head of performance at domestic team Pro Racing Sunshine Coast and coach of a number of Australian cyclists outside the team, was in attendance and learnt a lot from Dennis’ insight.
“A lot of it was talking about the focus he applies to time trialling and the specificity of that,” said Shaw. “It’s not my background, so it certainly opens the mind to helping more athletes do a better job with that.”
Shaw coached both his wife, Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott), and Under 23 rider Liam Magennis (Drapac-Cannondale) to second and first in their respective categories in the time trial at nationals, but still took plenty from the session.
“You don’t know what you don’t know and it certainly helps that pathway,” said Shaw. “It inspired me to look further into it, it opens more ideas and makes me more interested in finding out more about it all. There was a lot of detail that Rohan talked about, but the majority was around committing to being a time trial specialist.”
“One of the most interesting things was how Rohan talked about his journey from 17 through to now and the training work he did at an early age and the pathway he took.
The movement to create a group of time triallists sharing knowledge from more established members to relatively junior ones was lauded by Shaw.
“I think it’s a great initiative by Brad (McGee) to create a time trial group,” said Shaw. “We can continue to learn and share and grow. I think Brad has a lot to be commended for in starting this.”