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Rohan Dennis takes Romandie lead but says there is ‘timber to lose’ for high mountains

Australian takes lead in Tour de Romandie with second on first uphill finish as he builds for optimum condition at the Tour de France.

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ROMONT, Switzerland (VN) – Rohan Dennis came within a whisker of taking his first European win in Jumbo-Visma colors with second place on the uphill finish to Romont on stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie. The Australian was narrowly denied by a late charge from Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) with the Belgian taking the win by just a matter of meters.

The consolidation for Dennis came in the form of the leader’s jersey and after taking second for two consecutive days in Switzerland the 31-year-old has a healthy 16-second leader over his two closest rivals, Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). With a final day time trial on Sunday, Dennis put himself in an excellent position to win his first stage race since the Tour Cycliste International La Provence in 2017.

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However, with a key mountain stage on Saturday, the race outcome is far from certain and with the Tour de France Dennis’ main goal, the Australian admitted is he still needs to reach his optimum weight before being able to handle the best climbers in the world.

“The shape is good on short climbs and in short prologues my form is good,” Dennis said at the finish.

“I think that I need to lose a little bit of timber off the rear end to be able to go up the climbs on Saturday as well as some of what some of these other little guys can do. Every day I’ll ride to the finish line as hard as I can and see what happens with GC, but I’m not saying that I’m one of the favorites, even after yesterday and today.”

Dennis was asked about his move from Ineos Grenadiers to Jumbo-Visma over the winter and the contrast between the two set-ups. His goals, he said, remain relatively similar but there is certainly more of an emphasis on the Tour de France — a race he never had the chance to take on when at Ineos between 2000 and 2011.

“Not too much in the sense of my goals. My goals haven’t changed other than the person that I’m working for. From Ineos to Jumbo, I’m just not working for an English team, I’m working for a Dutch team, and other leaders. My preparation has changed a little bit, and we’re more focused on being a really big helper at the Tour de France. Time trials are still obviously there, and a focus of mine but to be there in the high mountains, when push comes to shove in July, is really important for Roglič and Vingegaard.”

Today Dennis appeared close to his best stage racing form since the 2020 Giro d’Italia, when he played an instrumental role in helping Tao Geoghegan Hart to the maglia rosa. There’s a huge difference between that Giro and this Tour de Romandie but Dennis’s surprise attack on the final climb in Romont demonstrated that the Australian was moving in the right direction.

“Unfortunately, the race was two meters too long and I just couldn’t get to the line quick enough, to be honest with you,” he said.

“The plan was to take the leader’s jersey today and potentially also the stage. The plan was to see how my legs went and go with any moves. I saw an opportunity to attack on that final climb.”