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Ride like... Rohan Dennis

BikesEtc
12 Jan 2018

Time-trial specialist... track background... World Hour record holder... targeting the Tour. Sound familiar?

Best known as a specialist against the clock, Aussie Rohan Dennis not only broke the World Hour record on the track in 2015, he went on to set the fastest ever average speed in a road time trial (55.446kmh) at the Tour de France the same year.

He’s no one-trick pony, though, as he showed at the Tour of the Alps 2017, where he outsprinted Thibaut Pinot on an uphill finish to win Stage 2.

He also demonstrated his all-rounder credentials at the Tour Down Under in 2015, taking one stage win on his way to overall victory.

Dennis has already made his mark in 2018, completing a hattrick of time-trial wins at the Australian National Champs, and he'll be hoping for further success at the Tour Down Under, which runs from tomorrow to 21st January.

 

Fact file

Name: Rohan Dennis
Date of birth: 28 May 1990 (age 27)
Born: Adelaide, Australia
Lives: Andorra
Rider type: Time-trial specialist/All-rounder
Professional teams: 2013-14 Garmin-Sharp; 2014-present BMC Racing Team
Palmarès: Tour Down Under overall winner 2015; USA Pro Cycling Challenge overall winner 2015; Australian National Time Trial Champion 2016, 2017, 2018; Tour de France 1 individual stage win (2015), 1 TTT stage win (2015); Vuelta a España 1 TTT stage win (2017); World Hour Record 52.491km (set 8th February 2015)

Aim high

What? ‘If someone like Bradley Wiggins can win a Grand Tour, so can I,’ said Dennis in a 2016 interview, referring to the Brit legend’s transformation from track specialist to Tour de France champion.

Like Wiggins, Dennis started his career on the velodrome, winning the world team pursuit title in 2010 and 2011 and a silver medal in the same discipline at the London 2012 Olympics.

Since then, however, he has changed direction to focus on the road, where he is developing into a genuine contender, as recent results have shown.

How? For riders of a larger build like 6ft-tall Dennis, it’s easy to imagine you’ll never be able to perform well in the hills. However, by setting himself ambitious targets and working hard, he is gradually converting himself into a strong climber, even beating specialist climber Thibaut Pinot on an uphill finish. Don’t let set ideas about what type of rider you are hold you back. If you’ve got a cycling dream, follow the example of Dennis and Wiggins and go for it. You’ll never know what you could have achieved if you don’t try.

 

Enjoy the off season

What? Pro cyclists live the lives of monks during the racing season, denying themselves worldly pleasures in order to keep to their optimum race weight.

But once he’s off duty, the Aussie likes to let his hair down a bit and indulge in life’s pleasures, as he revealed in a recent tweet: ‘Putting on some pants tonight that fit 2 weeks ago and realising that you’ve “bloated” a fair bit since… #offseason #extrakegs #vino’

How? At this time of year especially, it’s important to give yourself some time off to recharge.

Apart from anything else, slogging away during the winter months can destroy your motivation and can even lead to illness and injury.

Just make sure you get back on the bike in time to work off the excesses of Christmas before the new season begins!

You can be sure that after a couple of weeks off, Dennis is already back to his full training regime to get in shape for the start of the Australian racing season in January.

 

Think with your legs

What? ‘I wanted to I think with my legs today,’ Dennis said after his Tour of the Alps stage win.

‘To be honest I saw today’s finish and thought there would be about 60 guys up there. If I had legs, I’d have a go. That’s my mentality this week: see how you feel and if you can, you can.

‘If you can’t, it’s not too bad and you minimise your losses. It’s best for me to look at this race kilometre by kilometre and get a possible result where I can, instead of thinking ahead and saving my legs for the mountains. I want to take my chances.’

How? For Dennis, ‘thinking with your legs’ means being versatile enough to adapt your race strategy based around how you’re feeling on the day.

Although training and planning are vital to success on the bike – whether that’s winning a big race or conquering an epic sportive, it’s a mistake to be too set in your thinking.

Listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re feeling up to a big ride today, don’t save it for tomorrow when you might not be so strong; instead adjust your training schedule to suit your mood.

 

Stay positive

What? Despite retiring from the Giro after a crash that also kept him out of the Tour, and then retiring from the Vuelta due to illness, Dennis regards 2017 as his best year as a pro cyclist.

‘It’s more than I’ve ever done before in road races,’ he revealed. ‘I think I’ve succeeded in that stepping stone to becoming more of a GC rider. It is all looking good bar a few moments of bad luck, but everyone has them. You have to move on from it.’

How? By focusing on his long-term goals and positively reflecting on his progress towards them, Dennis is able to see his setbacks in context and not let them chew him up. It’s something we can all learn from.

Didn’t finish that tough, hilly sportive this year? Don’t sweat it, have another go, armed with the knowledge of what to expect.

 

Be a team player

What? Cycling is a team sport and Dennis is always quick to thank his team-mates for their support.

After his stage win at the Tour of the Alps, he said, ‘I wasted the team’s energy way too much today – I stopped for a pee break at the wrong time! – So, to get the win for them is great. It all worked out perfectly in the sprint and I’m glad to repay their effort.’

How? As a cyclist, working together always achieves better results. For example, learning to ride effectively in a group is a vital skill that can help you ride further and faster for less effort.

Company also makes rides more fun. The best way to achieve this is to join a club where you can learn from more experienced riders – find a club near you at britishcycling.org.

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