Time trial world champion Rohan Dennis works backwards when asked to name his major season objectives with new squad Bahrain-Merida this year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
23 Jan 2019 - 12:54 PM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2019 - 12:55 PM

The 28-year-old opened his 2019 WorldTour campaign with the team at the Tour Down Under last week where he finished fifth overall in what was a quiet but consistent showing.

Speaking from the final stage, Dennis said his transition to Bahrain-Merida following four-and-a-half seasons at BMC Racing had been smooth with no major changes.

“I still do the same sort of preparation, I’ve got the same goals throughout the year so it’s not a whole lot different,” he said.

“There’s a little bit less of a weighted emphasis on trying to win this race. It was just trying to be strong and consistent here; start the season on a good foot and not on the back foot, get some confidence with the team and show them I’m not here just to have one year off and then my second year come out flying again, to try and get another contract.”

Dennis has recently placed greater focus on transitioning from a time trial specialist to Grand Tour contender, which is set to dually work in his favour this season.

“I’ll work backwards from the end of the season; Worlds, I want to retain that world title,” he said adamantly of objectives.

“Then there is the Tour de France. I’m going there with [Vincenzo] Nibali to help him out and obviously help him out with a lot of the team time trial stuff as well. That’s very vital for the team to improve on that, so he can hopefully gain some time, not lose time when it comes to that on the other GC teams.”

Nibali was sat fourth overall when he was forced to abandon the Tour de France last year following a crash involving a spectator on Alpe d’Huez.

“And then obviously work towards my GC goals for the future as well,” Dennis concluded.

BMC gave Dennis leeway for that last year at the Giro d’Italia in which he marked a stint in the maglia rosa, won the stage 16 time trial and finished 16th overall. He went onto compete at the Vuelta a España in which he won the prologue to take the first leader’s jersey of the race. Dennis bowed out of the Vuelta – the day after he won the stage 16 time trial - to focus on preparation for the World Championships.

The Australian has some familiar faces at Bahrain-Merida, including Richie Porte’s former coach David Bailey, who also jumped ship from BMC prior to its late merger with CCC-Sprandi.

Dennis early last season placed an emphasis on improving his climbing, with Grand Tour aspirations in mind. He was happy with where that was at during the Tour Down Under both in terms of his own legs and team support in positioning and numbers. He noted his fourth-place finish on the sixth and final stage to Willunga Hill, which decided the race title and improved his overall standing.

“It’s always good to just show the team you want to repay them for everything they’ve backed you for from word go,” he said.

Dennis takes riders to time trial school
Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) took some time out of his schedule at the roadnats to help out some young riders with their time trialling, drawing upon his wealth of experience to help develop the next generation of Australian champions.
Dennis wins the Oppy for a second time
Rohan Dennis has won his second Sir Hubert Opperman Medal after taking out the world road time trial championship for the first time.