Rohan Dennis has spoken of his relief at ending his 18-month winning drought after victory on stage two of the Volta a Catalunya.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider completed the 18.5km course in Banyoles in a time of 22-27, five seconds faster than Rémi Cavagna of Deceuninck-Quick-Step.
It was the Australian’s first win since he became time trial world champion in Yorkshire in September 2019.
Since then the 30-year-old has recorded five time trial podiums but never quite reached the top step, often put in the shadow by his Italian team-mate Filippo Ganna.
“It’s a bit of a monkey off my back,” he said after his win. “There is always that one big guy in our team called Filippo Ganna who is a tough one to beat.
“It’s great but it’s also a pain sometimes having him in the team for my own personal goals.
“It’s great to have him not here today and I get my own free reign to have a crack and I have pulled it off.
“Hopefully this is the start of the ball rolling and I get a few more wins under my belt this year leading into July.
“Hopefully I get a start at the Tour de France and then it’s Tokyo [Olympics] which has been my big personal goal for five years since Rio and hopefully we can pull that off as the final, big goal for myself for 2021.”
While he insists internal competition with Ganna is healthy, he nonetheless is satisfied that he has proven his own credentials against the clock once more, a reminder to the peloton that he remains one of the best time triallists.
He added: “It is frustrating but at the same time I’ve had it in the past where I have been on the top step a lot and there’s nothing worse than coming back to the hotel and there’s even just one rider who isn’t happy for you, who is obviously a rival in a time trial.
“I don’t let it get between us. It’s obvious there is a little bit more of an internal fight that is burning, that I want to beat him.
“That’s only natural, we’re all competitive, but I do not let it get between our friendship and our team. I keep that aside and I am proud and happy to be apart of the team when he wins as well.”
Will he soon be considered the best tester in the world again? “Let’s see what the next time trial does and then hopefully that’s when I can start saying that again,” he cautioned.
“I am just happy to win here, so I’m going to take it, enjoy it and we’ll see. This one feels good but also it was probably one of my toughest wins.”
Three of Dennis’ team-mates also scored top-10s, with Richie Porte in sixth, Adam Yates in seventh and Geraint Thomas in 10th. He revealed that the undulating course was a tough outing.
“It was not easy out there – I actually thought at halfway that I was probably wasn’t going to win again so when I saw on my Garmin at three kilometres to go I was in with a shot, it gave me a bit more motivation and I was all in. My confidence came back up,” he continued.
“It was quite heavy with the climbing at the start and then there was a headwind along the lake and just after the hill, so there was no respite or recovery period and I was on the pedals the whole time. Basically whoever was willing to suffer the most today won.”