Bradley Wiggins‘s transformation from track pursuiter to Tour de France winner may be under scrutiny with the recent TUE controversy, but that hasn’t stopped younger, physically similar riders looking to the Brit for inspiration.
Such a rider is BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis who was team pursuit world champion in 2010 and 2011, before shooting to prominence on the road at the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné where he won the white jersey for best young rider and finished eighth overall.
Now, at the age of 26, and with wins in one week stage races like the Tour Down Under and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge under his belt, Dennis is setting himself a four to six year target of challenging in Grand Tours.
“The way I look at it there’s a lot of scepticism over whether I can do it, but if someone like Wiggins can win a Grand Tour then so can I,” Dennis explained at BMC Racing‘s pre-season training camp.
“He was 82kg on the track, a pure trackie, and really wasn’t looked at as a potential GC rider, and then he just brought it all together and put his head down for four years.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2017 – essential guide
The first step in his transformation process will be this year’s Giro d’Italia, where Dennis will be given a free role to learn how to look after himself over the course of a three week race, while the rest of the BMC team will be working in service of Tejay van Garderen.
“My role is to ride within myself and always be looking forward to what’s coming up the next day and the day after that, so if it’s a recovery day coming up then I’ll go deeper, but if there’s another mountain stage then I’ll take it easier.
“If everything goes well and there’s no bad luck, then I don’t really see why I can’t make up some time in the last week and finish off strong.
“I won’t have the support, which is something I’m more than happy with. That support needs to be earned.
“I’ll just be there looking after myself in the bunch, and if a result comes then great, but if not then it’s just a stepping stone.”
It certainly appears that 2017 will be a year of learning for Dennis, with less pressure to deliver results despite his team’s aim of finishing third or better in the WorldTour rankings.
That might not be the case in the long term with Dennis setting such ambitious goals, but the Australian is comfortable that he is not putting too much pressure on himself to perform.
“I’ve got to go for everything I want to do, which means Grand Tours, and I think four to six years is enough to achieve that.
“I don’t want to finish my career saying ‘what if I’d tried that’. Finishing my career having not even tried to win a Grand Tour isn’t something I’d want to have in my head.”