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Dennis wins time trial championship again

AAP logoAAP 5/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

For once, the bad luck hit Rohan Dennis before it really mattered.

The Australian cycling star has successfully defended his national time trial championship, later revealing he had been sick in the leadup to Thursday's event.

Dennis admitted he was worried when he trailed former winner Luke Durbridge by three seconds halfway through the 40.9km event.

But Dennis stormed home in hot and windy conditions at Buninyong, clocking 50 minutes 59 seconds and beating Durbridge by 58 seconds.

Dennis had foul luck at last year's Olympics, suffering minor injuries in a pre-Games training accident.

Then he was on target for a medal in the time trial when a handlebar extension snapped, meaning he slipped to fifth.

"I was a little bit nervous about today - things have been going well, but the last week some things have come unstuck," he said.

"It was a little bit unknown how I was going to go today and at the halfway point I was pretty stressed.

"Obviously last year didn't go to plan with luck, but you have those years and you have to take the good out of it and keep preparing like I did."

Dennis became ill a week ago and until he woke up on Thursday morning, he was unsure how his bad health would affect the time trial.

"I've been lying to myself and a few others close to me," he said.

"Five or six days ago, I woke up at midnight and had a really sore throat - I've just been on antibiotics since.

"But I woke up and it was a lot clearer and I was like 'thank God for that'."

This is the start of a new era for Dennis, who plans to move away from being a time trial specialist.

He wants to test himself in the three-week Grand Tours and his main objective this year will be the Giro d'Italia.

Dennis will not start in Sunday's nationals road race, instead aiming for the January 14-22 Tour Down Under in Adelaide and then Europe.

While Dennis won the Tour two years ago, this time he will ride in support of his BMC teammate Richie Porte.

Still, Dennis noted he was also riding in support of Cadel Evans in 2015 when the cards fell his way.

"Obviously I always would love to win it again," Dennis said.

"I'm not one to just want to sit back and not win a race, either - but Richie is the leader.

"I'm going to have to play second fiddle, sort of like I did with Cadel."

Dennis' win broke the run of three senior wins at the nationals this year for Orica-Scott.

Also on Thursday, Orica-Scott star Katrin Garfoot won the women's time trial and Callum Scotson took out the men's under-23 event.

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