‘Time trial training was key to winning the event’: Rohan Dennis shares his top tips for indoor riding and racing

The world TT champion has proved himself a formidable virtual racer – but what makes the difference?

The lack of racing on the cycling calendar has resulted in riders and teams looking elsewhere for to get their competitive fix.

We have seen a host of virtual races introduced in the last few weeks across a number of indoor training platforms, including Zwift and Rouvy.

Within each cycling discipline, different riders rise to the top and virtual racing is no different.

It looks like Rohan Dennis, the Australian world time trial champion, could be the star of coronavirus lockdown indoor racing, having won his last two virtual events.

Dennis stormed to victory against an all-star line-up of his team-mates in the Ineos Zwift race, before following up with a dominant victory in the first race of the Digital Swiss Five event.

While Cycling Weekly spoke to Dennis's coach earlier this year to find out what makes him such a talent on the road, Dennis has now explained his performance when the wheels are off.

On the Team Ineos race victory atop the daunting Alpe du Zwift, he said: “Time trial training was really key to winning this event. I had a chat with Neal [Henderson, Dennis’s coach] in the week before the race and worked out what kind of effort I would need to put in.

“With the race being only an hour long, and the climb more or less 35 minutes, it couldn’t have been any more tailor-made for me, especially after all the shorter high intensity training I’ve been doing lately.”

With no racing on the calendar and many pros banned from riding outside due to their government’s coronavirus restrictions, indoor training has been an essential tool for plenty of riders, even with no specific goals to train for.

“With the lockdown that's in place at the moment i've been doing a lot of indoor training, including structured sessions on the turbo trainer and off-the-bike core strength stuff.

“To be honest I am not trying to gain fitness at the moment - truth be told I've actually lost a little! Right now I'm just trying to maintain a level of fitness which I can lift once there is a known race date.”

Dennis has spoken of how tough he is finding quarantine and has since deleted social media profiles after he posted a picture of himself appearing to break lockdown rules in Australia. 

>>> WHO says cycling is encouraged for both travel and exercise

As you’d expect for a pro rider, Dennis has all the bells and whistles for his indoor riding, all from Wahoo, including the workout mat, the Kickr turbo trainer and the Kickr climb, which lifts the front wheel to simulate gradients.

He also says he uses Wahoo’s indoor training platform The Sufferfest for his shorter, more intense sessions, and then will often put on a film to get him through.

Dennis’s main tips for virtual racing?

“Just send it!” he said. “Have some fun with it and don’t take it too seriously. It’s not like a road race where a group has a huge benefit over a lone rider. Although there is some advantage in drafting, it’s not the same as out on the road – especially uphill – so you really can use that to your favour.”

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