A fair number of people were talking about Dennis as one to look out for in the timetrial. He has shown form and his timetrial credentials are superb, both on the road as a U23 and on the track which has been his main focus until now. With World team-pursuit titles and a resultlist in the individual pursuit that is only held back by being a contemporary of the fearsome Luke Durbridge (who held the leaders jersey in the Dauphiné last year after a stunning prologue win btw) it was no surprise to see him succeed in the flat timetrial yesterday. His brilliant effort even held off Chris Froome who was probably already practising his yellow-jersey acceptance-speech before the stage. Instead the Garmin youngster grabbed the jersey with his second place and suddenly Garmin's race was saved after Talansky's ill-timed illness.
If his TT performance was pretty much expected, even if we didn't think he'd be at quite this level yet, his defense of the yellow jersey was nothing short of sensational. Aided by a stage that suited him, only one climb to finish the stage after a mainly flat day (as flat as it gets in these parts),he gave an inspired performance on the road to Valmorel. In the end he was unable to hold on to the jersey but he fought on for way longer than even the most optimistic observers (read: J.Vaughters) had thought. As the lead group withered down under the pressure of the Sky-train Dennis held his position at the front until the group was down to 10-12 riders. As the kms ticked down he was going deeper in his gears, ultimately pushing a heavy enough gear that it appeared as if his knee-caps were about to be launched into lunar orbit by the pressure of his grinding low cadence, but he still managed to hold on. In the end he inevitably popped and fell off the pace of Froome, Contador et. al. but amazingly he still hung on fairly close to the leaders, ultimately finishing 59 seconds behind Froome in 14th place. That was enough to put the yellow jersey on Froome but, perhaps most importantly at this point, Dennis managed to distance his nearest rivals in the Youth competition by 40 seconds on a day when he was assumed to lose time. Can he replicate something even close to this in the remaining mountain-stages he could pull off a huge upset. What remains to be seen is if the jersey plus the "easy" climbing stage helped him today and if he will struggle when reality sets in in the final two stages with multiple climbs and more of the really hard stuff? That remains to be seen of course but for Garmin this is already a hugely successful race whether he can hold on to the jersey or not.
Naturally this all means that Dennis is a future Tour de France winner for sure. These kind of results always do. Always. But jokes aside, Dennis is clearly a talent beyond the average and days like these can only serve as inspiration for the kid. I'd assume he is more of a power rider for the classics with his pedigree but it may be all about where he choses to focus his energies. It will be interesting to follow him in the coming week to see if today was somehing of a flash in the pan or if his climbing is really on this level already. If it is, he has a wealth of options open to him in the coming years.