Rider of the week
Ever since wearing the yellow jersey and winning the white one in the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné, Rohan Dennis has been hailed as one of cycling’s biggest talents, but the general impression was the young Aussie didn’t live up to his huge potential, despite another win in the Tour of Alberta GC and a victory in a stage of the Tour of California, on Mount Diablo. Main reason for this was that Dennis, riding for Garmin-Sharp at that time, failed to make an impact in the so important World Tour races. However, things have changed all of the sudden in the second half of 2014, after Dennis signed with BMC, in an unprecendent move that took the cycling world by surprise.
Right after getting under the command of Allan Peiper, a former rider himself (who rode 12 Grand Tours during his career), currently one of the most appreciated sport directors in the pro peloton, things began to move for the 24-year-old. He raced the Vuelta, where he impressed everyone with his form and the 3rd place in the final ITT. That was a sign of the things that were to come, because just a couple of weeks later, Dennis helped BMC win for the first time the team time trial race at the World Championships, as well as finishing 5th in the ITT, two results that gave him confidence and made him wanting for more for the 2015 season, which Dennis began with a second place at the National Championships ITT, just 8 seconds behind Richie Porte.
After the Nationals, Rohan Dennis lined up for the 17th edition of the Tour Down Under as one of BMC’s leaders, and in the third stage he laid his mark on the race, with a great attack on the new finish at Paracombe, where he took the win (his first in the World Tour) and the ochre jersey. Now leader of the GC and having a strong team to support him, Dennis knew that from that point just one big test was ahead, the Willunga Hill, where everyone was waiting for an attack of Richie Porte, the pre-race favorite. As expected, Porte’s acceleration came in the last kilometer and it was a fierce one, and even though Dennis couldn’t answer and lost time, he kept the jersey for two seconds, then came home safe in Adelaide and became the sixth Australian to win the race, a result few could have predicted at the beginning of the previous week.
What are the conclusions of this Tour Down Under? Rohan Dennis is the first World Tour leader of the season (110 points), the win gave him a massive confidence boost for the next races of the year, BMC found a great leader for the future (coincidentally or not, in what was the last stage race of Cadel Evans), while Cannondale-Garmin, the former team of Dennis, can start thinking at what went wrong last year and why did Dennis left the squad after less than two seasons.