Roger Vaughan / AAP News
Rohan Dennis has broken through for his elusive Commonwealth Games or Olympic gold medal after a stirring ride to win the men’s time trial in Birmingham today.
Australia are halfway to another sweep of the Commonwealth Games road cycling events after a day of drama at Wolverhampton.
Grace Brown convincingly won the women’s time trial on Thursday and Rohan Dennis then finally cracked a Commonwealth or Olympic Games gold medal.
But the men’s event was plagued by crashes, with Dennis’ main rival Geraint Thomas coming to grief only two minutes into his ride.
Dennis and Thomas, the Welsh 2018 Tour de France champion, later questioned the lack of a proper pre-event course reconnaissance.
While they were allowed onto the course, it was in traffic and the roadside barriers were not set up properly.
Thomas rallied to finish third, two seconds behind England’s Fred Wright, who in turn was 26 seconds adrift of Dennis.
The Welsh great lost about a minute because of the crash, but he and Dennis have been plagued by bad luck in major time trials.
Dennis’ snapped handlebar cost him a medal at the Rio Olympics a nd he was jubilant to finally win a gold medal in an event ending with the word “Games”.
“I finally have that top step. It’s taken 12 years … it’s great,” said the multiple Olympic and Commonwealth medallist.
Australia won all four road events four years ago on the Gold Coast and will field strong teams in Sunday’s road races.
“No pressure … the morale and confidence are there, but it also puts a little bit of pressure,” Dennis said.
“We can’t race stupidly. There are going to be a lots of eyes on us.”
Brown, like Dennis, justified her pre-race favouritism with a ride that was perfect other than a minor wobble at the start.
She won easily ahead of England’s Anna Henderson, with New Zealand’s Georgia Williams third.
In a good sign for the road race, Georgia Baker was fourth and Sarah Roy took ninth place.
Brown raced only four days after finishing the Tour de France Femmes.
“I’m not exactly sure what I did, but I think the holder let go of me a little bit earlier than I expected,” Brown said of her eventful start.
“It’s really, really satisfying. I tried not to take on too much of the pressure of being the favourite today – be calm and focus on what I have to do.
“Also knowing I have a Tour de France in my legs, I’m really happy I could execute what was expected of me and I had a good ride out there.”
Brown finished fourth in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics and has taken her career to another level over the last couple of years.
She received a plaque for competing as a member of the FDJ team at the Tour de France and now has more hardware.
“I need to actually invest in a trophy cabinet now,” she said.