Rohan Dennis: time trial world champion
To say it was inevitable would be debase the achievement but, from very early in his career, it seemed likely that Rohan Dennis would become the best in the world at what he does well. Yesterday, he confirmed that with a win in the TT at the world championships.
Whenever Rohan Dennis wins something big – and he tends to that a few times every year – I think back to my first encounter with him. He was only 15 when I first saw him ride. On the velodrome in Sydney as a junior at the track nationals, he looped around the Dunc Gray velodrome in a position that, even back then, seemed as close to perfect. And he went fast, very fast.
Efficient and elegant, that was Rohan on the track bike only a little while after he arrived on the cycling scene as a teenager. Originally a swimmer, he was tracked down by The System: a talent ID program ‘discovered’ him and enticed him to try a different sport. Cycling found him, rather than the other way around. And he’s been succeeding ever since.
Overnight in Innsbruck, he completed the 52.1km course at an average of 49.585km/h.
With an elevation gain of 654m, it was far from a flat race and yet Rohan Dennis used his efficiency in such a way that he not only won, he dominated the race against the clock.
In second in 2018 was the winner from 2017: Tom Dumoulin, 1:21 behind the Australian! That in itself is remarkable.
The runner-up from the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia has, as they say, been there and done that in time trialling. Tom Dumoulin is one of the most rounded athletes in our sport at the moment and, in time, that’s what Rohan Dennis will become.
For now, however, Rohan is the master of the TT. How he progresses in his quest for GC remains to be seen but the focus of the 2018 season has been on time trials and it is fitting that he rides away from the worlds with a(nother) rainbow jersey for his collection.
A satisfied smile…
He’s won a world title before, but that was on the track. It was done in style as part of a pursuit team but now he’s gone to the next level: first on the road, the best of the best in emphatic style.
Of course, we can’t forget that he too has been there and done that; in just about every one of the major contests that exists in cycling, Rohan Dennis has enjoyed success. He’s led the Tour, the Giro, the Vuelta. He’s won stages and worn coveted jerseys. He has set the record average speed in a TT in the world’s biggest race and he has owned the hour record.
What’s left? The world championship, that was all he had yet to collect. And he’s done that now. It’s the performance of a lifetime but it seems like only the beginning – or perhaps the middle, or the opening of the next chapter – for Rohan Dennis’ career.
What comes next is anyone’s guess. He has said that he wanted to be the best he can be and just because he’s the world champion, don’t expect him to fade away because of the satisfaction of achieving something special. In 2019, with a new team and the relief of having done what he did in Innsbruck on the Wednesday of the championships, he will begin to chase more glory and he’ll do so while enjoying his status as champion of the world.
The perfect position for power delivery…
Congrats Rohan, what you’ve done is impressive. It reminds me that good things come to those who strive for great and put all their energy into achieving a goal. You may have been destined to win the world title but that doesn’t mean that it has been easy. Commitment as well as belief and a physiological gift, plus a strong support network, have all made this possible.
Savour the win, understand that people have been impressed by it – and the other things you’ve done along the way – and enjoy the next part of the journey. The bike has taken you a long way but there’s more yet to do before you stop racing and start riding for fun.
– By Rob Arnold