There are presumably all sorts of chaotic thoughts that can go through the mind lap on lap as the body starts to yield and hopes of setting a new benchmark in the en-vogue discipline vary. Dennis, however, has revealed the opposite is more likely to be the case if he is within reach of meeting, if not surpassing, the 52.5km mark his BMC team has set.
“I don’t remember a whole lot of the best time-trials and pursuits I’ve ever done. I just switch the brain off,” the 24-year-old told Cycling Weekly. “You could probably say I’m borderline vegetable, just my body is still going.
“In the good pursuits I’ve done I just zone out and then snap back with a couple of laps to go when the coach is getting excited or what not. Hopefully I can get into that frame of mind and it should be all good.”
Dennis has had a busy start to the year preparing for his Record attempt and competing at the Australian national championships earlier this month. He will start the Tour Down Under tomorrow racing for BMC team-mate Cadel Evans in what is a swan song for the decorated veteran.
Dennis finished second to an in-form Richie Porte at the Australian time-trial titles with Jack Bobridge, who will attempt the Hour Record on January 31, rounding out the podium. The event was a good litmus test for the former track world champion Dennis who, apart from a “well done” at nationals, has exchanged no words with Bobridge, also in Adelaide for the first WorldTour event of the year.
Bobridge smashed Chris Boardman’s “unbreakable” 4km individual pursuit world record in 2011 and will surely pose a serious threat to the current Hour record that Matthias Brändle holds. Dennis maintains Bobridge’s performance, winning or not, will not impact on his own attempt eight days later.
“Jack will be a good indication as to what is possible for myself,” he said. “He had great form at nationals and he is a threat but I still am confident that I can go faster. For him to go before me can be of benefit as long as I don’t let it consume me mentally and try and use his benchmark as a be all or end all. I still have to race my race, stick to what I’m good at, instead of trying to do what he did, and then a little bit more.”
The Hour Record was broken twice last year with Jens Voigt setting the tone at 51.11km in September. Voigt held the title for 42 days before Brandle established the current 51.852km benchmark. Commonwealth Games champion Alex Dowsett is yet to confirm if he will go ahead with his February 27 attempt in London following a training accident last week whilst former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins has also added his name to the growing list of challengers, and is due to hit the boards some time after Paris-Roubaix.
“I honestly think that if Wiggins doesn’t beat one of us young guys it could stand for a long time,” Dennis said. “There are a lot of people saying us young guys are just trying to get in before Wiggins, or [Tony] Martin or [Fabian] Cancellara. Okay, they’re better time-trialers than us on the road … but if you don’t have that feel for the track it does make it a lot harder.”
Dennis acknowledged Wiggins’s glorious feats in the velodrome but is no less focused on achieving his goal.
“I want to do it probably twice in my career,” he said of the Hour Record. “Right now I’ve got a good two years under my belt as a professional and I think I’ve got a lot stronger since London. Hopefully I get it and have it for at least a couple of months. If not, no worries, I’ll come back later in my career, try again and make it a mark that won’t be broken for a long time.
“The team says 52.5 should be possible when you look at my numbers and aerodynamics,” he continued. “I never like to put a number on it to be completely honest … but I like to reach a little bit higher than what’s expected so hopefully I can surprise a few people.”
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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, television reporter and presenter, who has provided coverage for Cycling Weekly from races across the world. She has covered eight Tours de France, as well as reporting for national and international newspapers as well as other magazines.
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