Rohan Dennis confident of making an impact in Florence

Rohan Dennis believes he still has plenty in the tank at the end of a first and race filled year as a professional cyclist to leave the imprint he hopes for in the individual time trial of the world road championships in Florence, Italy on Wednesday night (AEST).
Nanjing Night Net

The 23 year-old South Australian who now rides for the American Garmin-Sharp team is one of two Australians who will race in the 57.9 km time trial – the other being Tasmanian Richie Porte (Sky).

Both riders face a mighty challenge to crack into the medals against seasoned professionals such as the defending world champion German Tony Martin, former gold medallist Swiss Fabian Cancellara and the reigning Olympic time trial winner Briton Bradley Wiggins.

However, Porte and Dennis are as well prepared as they can be for this race against the clock on a flat route that will suit them, and should any of the top riders fail to deliver an optimal performance, the opportunity may arise for the Australian pair to surprise.

A top five finish by either Australian rider would not be out of the blue though, as impressive as such a result would be.

Dennis, who has ridden strongly in a number of time trials this year – including last Sunday’s 57.20 km team time trial in which Garmin-Sharp placed eighth – is that confident he has what it take to produce his best in the individual time trial.

“I find the team time trial is actually a good way to open the body up and really have a good hit out,” Dennis told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.  “But obviously you need to manage your recovery pretty well afterwards to give yourself a good chance in the time trial.

“My form in the team time trial I thought was pretty good. I have been putting a lot of effort and time into the individual time trial, so to have the high end power in the team time trial still is a good sign.

“The time trial coarse is a good one for me. I say that because most of my results in time trials this year have come from flat time trials. “The heat won’t be much of a factor in the race, it’s only in the 20’s (Celsius).”

Australian men’s road coach and national selector, Brad McGee, is confident that Porte and Dennis will produce their best on Wednesday night (AEST).

“Both have put runs on the board this year. They are very well prepared time triallists,” McGee told Fairfax Media.

“The big order at this time of year is, ‘Can they put it together at this time of the season for a major championship?

“We have studied the course, because with the length of the course it is quite a different tactic than to what they are used to.”

That tactic, says McGee is simple: hold power and pace for the full 57.9 km race distance. “I don’t think many guys [in the race] will have ridden that far in a time trial,” McGee said.  “But they both have that confidence to go the distance which is part of the game.”

After the time trial, Porte and Dennis will rest up and prepare for the 272 men’s elite road race on Sunday for which Australia has a nine-rider team that will be led by Porte and 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans who won the world title in 2009 at Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, in Tuesday’s 22.05km elite women’s time trial, Shara Gillow – Australia’s sole entrant – placed a disappointing 12th from 84 starters.

The race was won by Ellen Van Dijk of the Netherlands in 27 minutes 48.18 seconds. The silver medal went to New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen who came in at 24.10 secs and the bronze to Carmen Small of the United States who was at 28.74 secs. Gillow’s time was at 1 min 20.39 secs to Van Dijk.

Gillow later praised Van Dijk, but agreed that she was on an off day. The Queenslander said: “I always knew it was going to be tough. Some days are good days and some days are bad days and unfortunately today was just a bad day for me. But congrats to Ellen, she really deserved the win.”

Australian women’s coach Martin Barras said hopes were high that she would have finished far better than 12th.

“We were hoping for fifth or sixth on this course with the form that Shara took in today,” Barras said.

“She rode her heart out as she always does, but there was just a bit of edge lacking out there pretty much from the start of the race.”

Gillow, who helped Orica-AIS win the bronze medal in Sunday’s team time trial, will also race in Saturday’s 140.5 km elite women’s road race.

For live coverage of the men’s elite time trial world championship watch Eurosport tonight from 9.15pm (AEST) or SBS2 from 10.30pm (AEST).

Twitter: @rupertguinness

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