Rohan Dennis could probably cope better with Tadej Pogacar’s cycling domination if the Slovenian wasn’t such a good bloke.
One of the Australian’s key missions this year will be to help new teammate Primo Roglic win the Tour de France.
To do that, Roglic must beat his compatriot Pogacar, who has won the past two Tours to confirm himself as the new benchmark in the race.
“The problem is, I talk to him a fair bit, we get along well and he’s a really nice guy,” Dennis told AAP.
“But he’s a pain in the arse, because he’s so bloody good.
“But so is Roglic.”
Dennis has switched teams this year to Jumbo Visma and will be a key Tour lieutenant for Roglic.
If Dennis needed any further proof of how good Roglic is as well, it came at last year’s Tokyo Olympics in the road time trial.
The Australian won bronze and Roglic was head and shoulders above a red-hot field to win gold.
“It was a completely different game for him that day, to everyone else and no-one can say it was a bad field,” Dennis said.
“These guys, Roglic and Tadej, are impressive to say the least.
“I don’t personally know how to beat either of them. That’s above my pay grade.”
Before Dennis, 31, heads to Europe and joins his new teammates, he will continue his start to the season at Adelaide’s Santos Festival of Cycling.
The three-day men’s road race will run from Thursday to Saturday, with a criterium in the CBD on Wednesday as well.
The week-long festival, also featuring a women’s road tour and other events across various cycling disciplines, is being held for the second year in place of the Tour Down Under.
The Tour, Australian cycling’s top annual event, was put on hold again because of COVID-19.
While the festival is a world away from the July Tour, it is a useful January stepping stone for Australian stars such as Dennis, Richie Porte and Amanda Spratt.
It’s also a return of sorts to the early years of Dennis’ career, when the Adelaide native cut his teeth in local races.
“It will be good to give back, in a way,” he said.
“It’s not the Tour Down Under, it’s a national event, and it is nice to do it.
“Then it’s all head down and planning for the Tour de France.”
SANTOS FESTIVAL OF CYCLING
* January 21-29 in and around Adelaide with road, track, mountain bike, BMX, Paracycling and cyclcross events
* Women’s road tour from Sunday to Tuesday
* Men’s and women’s criteriums in the CBD on Australia Day
* Men’s road tour from Thursday to Saturday, featuring Willunga Hill on the final day
* Men’s tour to feature Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge, Cam Meyer, Luke Plapp and Chris Harper
* Women’s tour to feature Amanda Spratt, Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Grace Brown, Nicole Frain, Lauretta Hanson and Rachel Neylan.