In July, Rohan Dennis made the headlines by disappearing from the Tour de France in a mysterious style, but two months later Australia's world time trial champion made an emphatic entry into Harrogate, dominating the elite men's time trial from start to finish. end to defend his title for 1min The 9s of 19-year-old Belgian prodigy Remco Evenepoel, the youngest medalist of all time for several years.
Dennis had dropped out of the Tour de France at stage 12, a day before his main goal, Pau's solo time trial, in a move that appeared to have been triggered by a dispute with his Bahrain-Merida trade team over equipment. . On Wednesday, he appeared at the starting line in Northallerton with a bike that did not appear to be a team problem, had not ridden since July, with a point to prove.
Adelaide's 29-year-old was 19s faster than Evenepoel in the first test after 16.7 km, but gained time substantially thereafter, moving more than 1 minute off in the second test near Fountains Abbey, at 37 km. The scale of his race was simply measured: he reviewed the recent Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic, who had started three minutes ahead, after just 31 of the 50 km, in a particularly technical and demanding part of the course.
The Slovenian led him from there to the finish line, but the point was right: Dennis had his head and shoulders off the rest. "It's been a tough year, there's been a lot of talk since the Tour de France about what I'm doing," said Dennis. "I really wanted to come here the best way to show I didn't hang my bike. I still have a lot to offer the sport."
As for Evenepoel, this result continued a breakneck trajectory of improvement that made it the hottest property of professional cycling. He arrives at the end of his first professional season, in which he went straight from the junior categories to the World Tour to win the European Time Trial title and the San Sebastian Classic; It bodes well for his debut in the elite race on Sunday.
The diminutive young man made an impeccable run – his head cold enough to spin briefly to pull on a sock immediately after he pulled off the starting ramp – and survive a near miss approaching Masham as he changed course to avoid a cat's eye in the left turn, and nearly piled a bridge railing. He was luckier than his Belgian counterparts Yves Lampaert and Victor Campenaerts – both older in years and experience – who fell late.
The bronze medal went to Italian Filippo Ganna, while Essex expert Alex Dowsett took a credible fifth place, perfectly stimulating his efforts to gain significant ground in the second half of the race. But Ganna and the rest were about 2 minutes or so behind Dennis; the enigmatic Australian and the precocious Belgian were part of a class of their own.
On a course west and then south of Northallerton, and in positively benign conditions compared with Tuesday's monsoon rain, the initial pace was set by Scot John Archibald. At 28, Olympic medalist Katie Archibald's brother proved his ability as a track persecutor and was part of the British team that had won the bronze in Sunday's mixed relay, but this was new territory for him. That raised the question: He should have been chosen before Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, whose late retreat paved the way for his entry into the race.
Races begin on Thursday, with newcomers racing on a route that starts in Richmond and heads west through the Yorkshire Dales before passing Bolton Abbey to return to Harrogate for three laps on the complicated finish circuit. Sam Watson leads a British sextet in a race where no British driver has ever received a medal.