Team Ineos have signed time trail World Champion Rohan Dennis, ending months of speculation about his future following a turbulent year.
Dennis won the Worlds time trial race after leaving the Tour de France mid-race in mysterious circumstances. During the road race a few days later he rode his old BMC bike and while he was still riding Team Bahrain-Merida announced his contract had been terminated a year early.
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Since the Tour, CCC, Movistar and Ineos were all linked with Dennis.
The Australian said: “This has been a dream of mine since turning professional.
“Watching on from afar, I’ve always been a huge fan of the team – ever since the early years. It’s always been a goal of mine to ride for this team, so to finally fulfil that dream is a brilliant feeling and a huge honour.”
He’s expected to make his debut in Ineos kit in Australia in January 2020. He will join the team on its first winter training camp later this month.
He added: “I know a lot of the guys already, from speaking in the peloton over the years, so there’s already friendships built, but building on those relationships and getting to know the whole team will be important.
“Racing in Australia is always special, especially for my family who rarely get to see me race – so it’ll be extra special to race for the first time for INEOS in front of them.”
Dennis will target the Olympics next year and is expecting to ride the Giro d’Italia, which has three time trials. He has also said he was excited to support the team’s GC challenge, which with four previous Grand Tour winners will have a good chance of taking a podium spot.
Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford said: “We all know what a world class talent Rohan is. He is one of the best and most-exciting time trial riders in modern cycling and we are very pleased to have signed him at Ineos.
“We are all about building a team that is the optimum blend of youth and experience. Rohan knows what it takes to win. We can give him an environment now where he can best fulfil his own future ambitions at the same time as showing other younger riders at the team what you have to do to succeed at the very highest level.”
Dennis’s signing for Ineos closes a turbulent six-month chapter for the Australian. He quit the Tour de France on the eve of the Pau time trial this year, when he was to race for the first time in the Tour in the rainbow stripes as the 2018 world champion. His decision caused a storm within the team, who had sent their top brass out for the stage. They never raced him again and would later terminate his contract.
Amazingly, Dennis had not raced since July 18 at the Tour when he won the World Championship time trial title two months later.
Dennis and his agent took Bahrain-Merida’s decision to fire him to the UCI Arbitration Panel. It said it was a breach of contract “actually causing, and with malicious intent to cause, damage to the health and reputation of Mr Dennis”. A decision on the case is yet to be announced.
The 29-year-old was reportedly earning around €1.5 million annually, according to sources, in the contract he signed for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Insiders suggested any new contract would be based on a lower base salary plus bonuses to encourage Dennis to race and win.
Dennis set the hour record in 2015 that Alex Dowsett, Bradley Wiggins and Victor Campenaerts went on to beat. He won the Worlds time trial titles in 2018 and 2019, two stages in the Vuelta a España and the overall of the Tour Down Under.
It is not the first time Dennis switched teams unexpectedly, having made his move from Garmin-Sharp to join BMC Racing midway through 2014. He stayed with the team through 2018 when the team folded, then signing for Bahrain-Merida.