Australia’s Rohan Dennis has won his first time trial since taking the world title in England two years ago with a vintage display against the clock at the Volta a Catalunya.
Adelaide’s specialist in ‘races of truth’ beat the French time champion Remi Cavagna by five seconds in a close-fought battle over the 18.5 kilometre course around Lake Bagnoles on Tuesday.
He was also 28 seconds clear of third-placed Portuguese Joao Almeida, who now leads the Catalunya tour overall after two stages.
Richie Porte, Dennis’s Australian teammate at Ineos, also enjoyed a fine day, finishing sixth in the time trial 36 seconds adrift.
It left the Tour de France podium finisher, back in business after his first stage crash at Paris-Nice, fifth in the overall standings, just six seconds off Almeida’s pace.
It was Dennis’s day, though, and it proved an emotional occasion for the 30-year-old, who was cheered home by his friends near his northern Spanish base in Girona as he ended his frustrating two-year winning drought.
“I’m relieved! It’s been a long time between drinks if I’m completely honest,” said the two-time world champion.
“It’s been a tough little road but it’s really great to be back on that top step.
“It’s amazing – the team have always supported and believed in the fact that I can be back on that top step. It’s just amazing to be back here.
“It means a lot. It’s my first victory with the Ineos Grenadiers and my first victory since Yorkshire worlds.
“It’s been a pretty tough sort of year-and-a-half of seconds, thirds or even being out of the top 10 sometimes.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to work on every day.
“It’s not getting any easier with all these young guys, so I’m making the most of this win.
“I train on these roads a lot and there are a lot of friends down here to cheer me on. It’s great to do it in front of them.”
Dennis sees himself as just a “helper” these days in the strong British team.
“For me I’m just the donkey if I’m honest with you. I’m the one that helps out, and it’s amazing that we’ve got the cards to play with the two Richies (Porte and Carapaz), G (Geraint Thomas) and Yatesy (Adam Yates) as well.
“It’s not going to get any easier from here. It’s good that we’ve got options.”
Dennis, who was out of overall contention after a tough opening stage, had to wait for two hours after he had set the early pace as, one by one, the high-quality field failed to beat his mark of 22 minutes 27 seconds.
Chris Froome, who lost eight and a half minutes in the opening stage, lost another two minutes and is out of the hunt completely but his old lieutenant Porte is looking strong.