(c) Chris Auld Photography
Rohan Dennis claimed his maiden Giro d’Italia stage win with a blistering time trial on stage 16 which saw the Australian national time trial champion stop the clock in 40’00” flat to take the win by an impressive margin of 14 seconds.
Dennis gained significant time on his General Classification rivals to jump from 11th overall to sixth place after the 34.4km time trial, with five stages remaining.
As the 11th-to-last rider to roll down the ramp in Trento, Dennis was chasing the early best time set by Tony Martin of 40’14”, and quickly settled into his rhythm to set the best time at the first intermediate checkpoint by 13 seconds.
Dennis kept his composure and didn’t crack under the pressure to again set the best time at the second checkpoint, six seconds faster than Martin.
On the fast run into the finish in Rovereto, Dennis gave it everything he had until he crossed the line, 14 seconds faster than Martin to move into the hot seat.
With ten riders still to finish, Dennis was confident that his time would be good enough for the win but didn’t allow himself to celebrate until UCI World Time Trial champion, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) crossed the line with the third-fastest time.
Dennis now sits in sixth place overall, 5’04” behind race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), with four road stages to come before the final circuit in Rome on Sunday.
The stage win adds to Dennis’ four days spent in the Maglia Rosa in the first week of the race, having secured the jersey on stage two in Tel Aviv.
The Winner’s Interview with Rohan Dennis
Congratulations, Rohan! How does it feel to get your first Giro d’Italia stage win?
“I’m really happy. I wanted to get a stage win here and I was hoping it would be in Israel. It didn’t happen there but we were able to get the pink jersey. It’s great to be able to pay the team back for all the hard work they have done this week and get a stage win as well as move back up into the top ten. Most time trials are generally good for me but it is always good to get a Grand Tour stage win plus there’s a bit of a bonus today with coming back into the top ten. It’s a nice way to finish today.”
How was the time trial for you?
“At the first time split, I knew I was up by around 15 seconds and then at the second it was six. And then for some reason, I thought he [Martin] did a 39’40” and I thought I had lost it but when I came towards the finish line and Marco Pinotti was in my ear screaming, I looked at the time and there was no time and normally that means you’re the quickest. I came across the line and they told me I was the fastest and I wasn’t going to argue. It was a good surprise.”
You have now moved up to sixth overall. How do you think the General Classification battle will play out this week?
“Basically I just have to hold on for as long as possible. There are going to be guys going crazy in the last week. I think there will be some guys hurting and I think I’ll be hurting a little bit. It’s an unknown for me when it comes to riding for the General Classification, in the mountains in the third week. I am going to just take each day as it comes and try to hold onto that top ten spot. I’ve looked at the stages to come and they are all hard. I don’t know how I am going to react to these three big days. Mentally, after that last mountains stage, there is nothing after that but Rome so you go all in and I think everyone will be doing the same so that will be the toughest one. I’m just taking each day as it comes.”
After crashing out of last year’s Giro d’Italia, how would you describe this year’s race for you?
“Last year’s Giro d’Italia is all forgotten. It’s been going pretty well so far. There have been challenges but I am pretty happy. It’s been a good Giro d’Italia.”