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PAU, France (VN) — Team Bahrain-Merida is trying to work through a number of different issues surrounding Rohan Dennis’s early departure from the 2019 Tour de France.
The Australian quit the race midway through stage 12, one day ahead of what would have been his Tour debut in the world champion’s rainbow jersey in the stage 13 time trial.
Asked about the rumors of bike, kit, or mental issues, the team said it would not “jump to conclusions” while trying to work through the incident.
“We’re right in that kind of epicenter of the situation now,” John Allert, managing director at McLaren Pro Cycling, which is a partner in the Bahrain-Merida team, told VeloNews. “So we’re trying very hard to not jump to easy conclusions. Like I said, it’s a complicated situation.
“Elite sport is complicated; performance in elite sport is complicated. So we need to disentangle a number of different issues, and really, really try to understand those. Because of course, if you’ve got somebody with the talent to grow, you want to see them on the road, not in the bus. So we need to understand all of those different variables, understand how we got to where we got to, and then work out what we do to remedy that, to make sure that this can’t happen again.”
With 84km to race in stage 12, Dennis stopped with the feed-zone support car. He would not communicate to the team and left everyone wondering what happened.
Overnight, the team put out an even vaguer statement by Dennis, who said, “given my current feeling it was the right decision to withdraw.”
“Well, it’s obviously a disappointing situation, particularly for Rohan, but also for the team. For the fans,” Allert added. “The situation is that when you operate at that extreme level of performance, as Rohan does, and he put some pretty crazy demands on it, you know, if all of the different components of performance don’t come together, Rohan didn’t feel that he was able to give his best. And, you know, he made that decision. No one knows Rohan better than Rohan himself. So we have to respect that.”
Dennis spoke with Allert and his teammates last night before leaving to travel home.
“Well, it’s an elite sport. I mean, everybody knows that. And you know, we see retirements from this race for a number of different reasons. I think it would be wrong to try to pinpoint that there is just one reason that Rohan withdrew, it’s a lot more complicated and a lot more sensitive than that,” Allert said.
“I’m not going to go into the detail of any of those factors, because we’re still seeking to understand those. But if Rohan doesn’t feel that he can perform, I have to respect that.”
Dennis has a contract through 2020 with the team. Next year, after the Olympics, he says that he wants to try to set the hour record again.
“He’s a fighter. Like I said, he’s proven that he’s a world champion,” added Allert. “He’s not in a rainbow jersey by coincidence.”