By Jamie Finch-Penninger?? @FishysCP
The conditions were relatively benign for the Men?s National Time Trial as people waited to see if Richie Porte could defend his title from his new teammate at BMC Rohan Dennis.
The race wasn?t just between the two, with last year?s third-place finisher Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) on the startline, 2013 U23 World time trial champion Damien Howson and NRS powerhouses Ben Dyball (Mobius Future Racing Team) and Sean Lake (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) looking to upstage the more fancied names.
As the race panned out, it was Sean Lake setting the early pace, with the dual Grafton to Inverell winner coming off some impressive form in the Tour of Bright, winning the first stage time trial in smart fashion. His early times proved too tough for all but the best to beat, when Damien Howson went through with a slim lead. Jack Bobridge looked to be going hard, and set a quick time at the first check, which was only beaten by Rohan Dennis as he passed through, Richie Porte was the last rider on the course and went through just off Bobridge in third.
It quickly became clear that Bobridge had gone too hard from the gun, and found himself losing time, eventually finishing down the order in 10th, 4 minutes 20 seconds down the eventual winner. At the final time check, Dennis increased his lead over Porte to 27 seconds, and it looked like he would be making up for his second place last season with Howson and Lake in a tight battle for the final podium spot, both over a minute behind Dennis? mark.
As the riders came into the finish, it was Sean Lake who arrived first to the cheers of the crowd, and as Damien Howson came in 16 seconds slower, an ecstatic Lake was guaranteed a medal, with only Porte and Dennis in front on the previous checks. With the reversal of last year still fresh in the mind, where Dennis forfeited his advantage midway through to Porte, the result was never a foregone conclusion. But as Dennis powered to the line, it was clear that he hadn?t slowed down at all, and that was confirmed as Porte came in, with a deficit of 39 seconds on his new teammate.
Rohan Dennis was clearly over the moon on the podium, but relieved as well. ?There?s only the pressure you put on yourself, unless you really want it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best in what I am to be good at. Rio?s my big goal this year, then the time trial at worlds in Qatar. I?ve got one more year of focusing on the time trial and then I?d like to take the route that Wiggo did. I could still win time trials I?m sure, it?s my specialty, so I need to keep that strength whilst improving my climbing.?
Richie Porte was really happy with his early season form, and given that he?s got a long way to build his form from here, he will be in top shape come his key goal, the Tour de France. ?It?s probably a bit more than I expected, to be honest, it?s been a bit more of a relaxed start to the year. I?m happy to be on the podium, not surprised that Rohan has taken this win he deserves it, he?s hungry and I know how much he?s wanted this national jersey. This year, Tejay (Van Garderen) and myself, our goal is in July. Allan Peiper said that if I won today, he was going to throttle me. To be a month in to the season and finish second to a class time-trialler like Rohan it?s a great way to start.?
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