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Voigt backs Dennis as cycling contender

  • Voigt backs Dennis as cycling contender

Former professional cyclist Jens Voigt hopes Australian Rohan Dennis follows through with his goal of becoming a Grand Tour contender.

The German, a popular figure in the sport, said the 25-year-old was young enough that he could try to adapt to the specific demands of races such as the Tour de France.

Voigt noted that if that did not work after a couple of years, Dennis could always go back to his strengths as a time trial specialist.

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Dennis was named Australian cyclist of the year last Friday night and said in his acceptance speech that one day he wanted to hold on to the Tour's famed yellow jersey for longer.

This year, he became only the seventh Australian to wear the maillot jaune when Dennis won the stage-one time trial.

He posted the highest average speed in history in a Tour time trial and held the jersey for one day.

It was a highlight of his stellar season that also featured the hour record and the Tour Down Under overall title.

"If he wants to go for the overall, then yes, he might need to look at doing a different training and racing program," Voigt told AAP.

"He's still young enough to explore his limits and to see how far it takes him.

"Why not? Be brave, be bold - go out there and try to reach your own limits."

Voigt and Dennis are two of the stars at this week's Tour On Stage, an event in Sydney (Wednesday) and Melbourne (Saturday) that will give fans an insight into pro cycling.

Commentator Phil Liggett will host the function and Australian star Simon Gerrans is another panellist.

There will be plenty of questions from the audience for Dennis, given his outstanding season and untapped potential.

He wants to be a contender in the time trial at the Rio Olympics and then focus more on becoming an overall frontrunner for the three-week grand tours.

Dennis is more of a time-trial specialist and, if he is to specialise in the Tour, the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a Espana, he will need to improve his climbing.

"That's the next step after Rio - that's the big, big goal of my career," he said.

"It's not going to happen the first time - well, it may - but it's rare."

Dennis noted his former BMC teammate Cadel Evans had to persist for years before becoming the first Australian to win the Tour.

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