Dennis Moves into Second on GC after Split Stage on Day 7 in Britain10. September 2016, Bristol (GBR) — Road Team
Tour of Britain Stage 7 was a tale of two parts with riders tackling both an individual time trial as well as a circuit race through the centre of Bristol and saw Dennis put in two strong performances to move into second overall on the General Classification.
Dennis was one of the final riders to roll off the ramp to start the time trial and was quickly able to find his rhythm, setting the fastest time at the intermediate check point.
The Australian time trial champion was able to hold his form over the second half of the course and stopped the clock at 18:09 with only the time set by Tony Martin (Etixx - Quick Step) able to deny him a spot on the podium.
With another second place finish, Dennis further cemented his place at the top of the General Classification and inched closer to race leader Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data), sitting 38 seconds back alongside Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant Alepcin).
Taylor Phinney also started strongly over the 14.2km time trial course and set a competitive time at the first intermediate time check point but an unfortunate crash on the slippery roads saw him eventually cross the line just outside of the top ten in eleventh place, 40 seconds behind the stage winner Martin.
With the time trial wrapped up, the focus shifted to the day's 90km road race. With all the riders aware of what was to come over the circuit, the racing was aggressive as soon as the flag was dropped.
After two of six laps, a four-rider breakaway was able to extend a lead over the peloton but their advantage was kept within grasp, never reaching beyond 1 minute 40 seconds.
The peloton brought the gap down to under a minute heading into the penultimate lap before the chase really stated with 15km to go.
Late attacks from the breakaway group saw the peloton have to wait until inside the final 4km to catch the remaining breakaway riders before heading onto the last ascent up Bridge Valley Road and the run in to the line.
With less than one second separating him from Dumoulin after the earlier time trial, Dennis made an impressive move off the front of the re-grouped peloton on the final slopes of this climb.
Dennis then dug deep to ride solo over the final kilometers of the day to take victory as well as six bonus seconds which saw him move up into second on the General Classification, 26 seconds behind Cummings with only one stage remaining.
Winner's Interview with Rohan Dennis
Congratulations, Rohan. Two stages in one day including victory in the circuit race, how are you feeling right now?
"I feel pretty good. Obviously it's great to win and the team has worked for me all week which I am thankful for. I think in hindsight we had to throw everything at a few stages early on and we probably have to say that the GC is done and dusted but the team worked well for me today again and I am glad that I could pull it off at the finish line and finally get that win."
"As a team we have been knocking on door this week and coming second again in the time trial was a bit frustrating so it is definitely a good feeling that the team got that win and now we can walk away from the race knowing we have done everything we could to win."
"It's been really hard race this week and I think most days I have tried to open the race up and put myself in the best place to win and I think I really showed that today as well but if you don't try, you won't win."
How was the transition today between the time trial and the circuit race?
"I was fairly happy with how I did in the time trial and I was the quickest on the climb so we took a little bit of confidence out of that and as a team we discussed that if I could go for it on that final climb I would."
"I haven't ridden double stages consistently since I raced U23 back in 2010 so refocussing wasn't easy and actually over the first lap a lot of the GC guys actually got caught up when the peloton split. So, in the end it was actually a stage that once you were in there you couldn't take it easy or you could have lost the GC."
Can you talk us through the moment you decide to attack on the final climb?
"Coming into the second part of today I wanted to go all or nothing but at the beginning of the race I wasn't feeling too keen to go for it but when you get towards that point and everyone is fighting and the team is pushing you up and you feel like you have the legs, you tend to switch on mentally and that's when I started to play it by feel. When Dumoulin slowed down a bit I thought now is the time to attack and thankfully I was able to hold on to it."
And looking ahead to tomorrow?
"Tomorrow should be straight forward but sometimes when you know that and you know it is going to be a sprint you switch off mentally and that can be dangerous. The main thing we have to do is stay on it and not relax too much and as we have done all week if we see an opportunity to something with any of our riders we will take it."
Sports Director Jackson Stewart:
"It was actually really helpful that we had the time trial before the circuit race. it was wet in the morning and we did a lap to check out the TT and for me, the course was a little bit more technical that I had pictured with a fast descent and a decent climb. With that in mind and with the weather, we didn't want to take a lot of risks, at least Rohan didn't looking at the objectives for the rest of the season and as we knew it was a tough ask to take first on GC."
"Rohan took it cautiously, unlike Phinney who went full gas and had a bit of the spill but thankfully he was alright. What we saw though was that on the second half of the time trial the effort Rohan put in on the climb was unmatched by anyone so heading into the circuit race we said that if he felt like he could do it, he would give it the same power and we believed he could win with that. Luckily he didn't have to do it alone and the team were able to move him up into position. Plus Lotto Soudal and Dumoulin tried to make it hard early and I think that set him up pretty well. He rode really smart today and timed it perfectly in the end."
"Across the board at every race the team have been riding well but until you get that win it almost feels like you haven't proved it so it's a great feeling for us here. Tomorrow is traditionally a sprint and I think we will probably see a fast race and one easy to control for the sprinter's teams but we will see what could happen."
Tour of Britain
Stage 7a: Bristol - Bristol, TT, 14.2km
Top 3: 1. Tony Martin (Etixx - Quick Step) 2. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) 3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant Alpecin)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 2. Rohan Dennis 11. Taylor Phinney 16. Taylor Eisenhart
Stage 7b: Bristol - Bristol, 90km
Top 3: 1. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) 2. Maximiliano Richeze (Etixx - Quick Step) 3. Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 1. Rohan Dennis 43. Rick Zabel 48. Amaël Moinard
BMC Racing Team Top 3 on GC after Stage 7a + 7b: 2. Rohan Dennis 30. Amaël Moinard 31. Loïc Vliegen
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.