Rohan Dennis, the two-time world time trial champion who joined Team Ineos earlier this month, has been speaking to new team-mates Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe about the breakdown in his relationship with his old team Bahrain-Merida.
Dennis’s final race for Bahrain-Merida was Stage 12 of the Tour de France which he abandoned halfway through, reportedly due to his unhappiness with the bike and kit he was expected to use in the following day’s individual time trial in Pau.
Dennis had been one of the favourites to win Stage 13, but speaking to Thomas and Rowe on their Watts Occurring podcast, he claimed he had been in no condition to do so.
The podcast begins with Thomas mischievously asking: “How many races do you plan on finishing this year, mate?”
“Two,” replies Dennis. “The Olympics and the Worlds. Finish two and win two.”
Taking the follow-up question – ‘What the hell happened in the Tour?’ – more seriously, he says: “In the end, it just wasn’t good for me to be there; for my family.
“I was struggling mentally and in the end, it was affecting home life and it was only going to get worse so I just decided on what was best for my family.”
He continues: “There were more things behind the scenes going on but it got to the point where… I wouldn’t go to the point of being absolutely depressed, but if I didn’t pull out right there and then it would have probably turned bad.”
Thomas asks whether Dennis had many contract offers when he split with Bahrain-Merida in September.
“Nada,” says Dennis.
He says he eventually ended up with “a couple of offers” other than Ineos, but points to his new team’s reputation for having an eye for detail as being a key reason why he signed.
“I’ve relaxed a bit over the years, but when there’s something that can be done, and that is shrug the shoulders and go ‘oh, can’t be bothered’ – that shits me.
“Like when it’s within our grasp of, ‘obviously this is our sponsor, why can’t we use this stuff that you’ve agreed on?’”
Dennis’s reputation for being obsessive certainly seems well-founded when he later confesses that it can at times tip over into compulsive behaviour.
The Australian says he always takes steps in multiples of five, “so I’ll take a couple of small steps to make a ten if it’s going to be eight.”
This also extends to pedal strokes. “Say it’s a bridge and I get to the end of the bridge and I’m going to have, like, nine – change gear, make a quicker cadence, make it ten.”
“Even in a race?” asks Thomas.
“A road race. Like the whole day. Yeah.”
As well as the Olympics and World Championships, Dennis says his other major career goal is the Hour record, which he is confident he can beat.
Victor Campenaerts covered a distance of 55.089km (34.231 miles) in April. Dennis says he will most likely make an attempt late this year or next, after the Tokyo Olympics which he says is, “a bigger goal.”