Dennis beats demons to retain world title

Luke Bradshaw
Sports Writer

Rohan Dennis made it two from two as he defended his world time trial title at the Road World Championships.

The 29-year-old won gold on the Yorkshire course that runs from Northallerton to Harrogate, before breaking down into tears when celebrating with his family at the finish line.

It’s the first competition that the Australian has competed in since abandoning this year’s Tour de France a day before the individual time trial stage. He managed to complete the 54km course over a minute faster than his closest rival with a time on one hour, five minutes, five seconds.

Dennis is known as a fiery character among the riders on the tour. His retirement this summer at cycling’s greatest spectacle caused concern among fans but it appears 10 weeks away from the limelight appears to have been the best remedy as the Adelaide man obliterated the field yesterday in a race where he seemed in control throughout.

While his performance suggested that he has well and truly banished any demons he may have had, his post-race comments suggested that there were very much to the fore. He said: “It has been the toughest period of my career, it was almost breaking. I was reminding myself today was all in my head.”

It’s widely accepted among the tour that if Dennis is on form he’s the man to beat in this event. His physical ability has never been in doubt, it’s more a case of whether he can match that with the mental fortitude required. Yesterday helped confirm that he can and he publicly thanked the sports psychologist that helped him do it, David Spindler – who also collected Dennis from the airport after his Tour de France retirement.

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On Spindler’s help, he said: “I mean physically I have always had it, but it was always the negativity in my head thinking not the positive things.”

European champion Remco Evenpoel was second and Italy’s Filippo Ganna third in Wednesday’s event. Team GB’s Alex Dowsett needed to finish in the top ten to ensure a second spot in the team trial event at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, and did so comfortably by finishing in fifth position.

With Dennis the last racer to start on the day, he had to beat the time set by 19-year-old Evenpoel, winner of the junior categories of the road race and time trial at this event last year.

Dennis will now look ahead to Tokyo 2020, where he will go into the time trial as a strong favourite, should he keep up his form. That said, he is currently going through a dispute with his team Bahrain-Merida (his withdrawal from the Tour is potentially to do with the equipment that they supply him) and rode in an unmarked bike yesterday.

His contract with them expires next year – it may cause issues that rumble on or free him up for Olympic glory.

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