World time trial champion Rohan Dennis has said that he is “in a much better place mentally” following his close-season "dream" move to Team Ineos, partly due to the removal of the pressure to aim for a high overall place in Grand Tours.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old spoke to new team-mates Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe for their Watts Occurring podcast and told them that his abrupt departure from the Tour de France on the eve of an individual time trial he was one of the favourites to win was due to the mental struggles he had been facing.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald this week, the Australian, who is currently racing at the Tour Down Under which is based in and around his home city of Adelaide, described his move to Team Ineos as a “turning point” and said he is now “in a much better place mentally and that's the main thing.
“Family, friends have really noticed the change since December so it's been a very positive move and I'm really keen to keep it going that way as well.”
Team Ineos have won six of the past seven editions of the Tour de France through Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, and also have reigning Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz on their roster.
Dennis admitted that the wealth of Grand Tour contenders in his new team had made him reassess his own goals.”
“If I'm ever going to win a Grand Tour, or podium, or get a good result … for GC I'm in the right place,” he said. “I just don't think that's what I really want to go down and try and do any more.
“It's a different kind of beast to say the least. Time trialers are quite special in themselves but GC riders for Grand Tour is, it's completely different mindset and not just on the bike but also off the bike, having to pretty well sacrifice 99.9 per cent of having a life.
“You have to be very structured with absolutely everything, from eating, sleeping to be winning something like the Tour de France. I just ended up not finding that enjoyable at all.
"I enjoy what I'm doing and helping other guys try and achieve the Grand Tour success instead."
Abandoning the Tour de France midway through Stage 12 and then riding a bike from his former BMC team as he successfully defended his world time trial championship in Harrogate in September led to his sacking by Bahrain-Merida the following month.
He claimed that a number of actions taken by his former team, which he is now suing for wrongful dismissal, had affected his routine in what he believes was a campaign calculated to get him to seek a move elsewhere, and said the situation had been detrimental to his relationship with his wife.
"Personal family reasons between the person I was becoming due to the situations I was put under, or the environment that I was in, that was causing me to be, let's just say, not a good or a happy person to be around," Dennis said.
"That environment was [the] team environment. It was snowballing, it was getting worse and in the end I didn't want to be a statistic of a sportsperson who was potentially going to be divorced."
He said that issues with his former team included "accidents that were made that were somewhat calculated to hit at certain times of days, to affect either sleep or training, times of the week so nothing could be done over the weekend – that was a favourite move.
"I'm not going to go too deep into it but, yeah, at that point I still was an asset but there were obviously very clear incentives to get me to move on and I'm not the person to lie down and let someone generally take advantage of me in any way, shape or form. It was a recipe for disaster."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.