Rohan Dennis’ unexplained withdrawal from the Tour de France midway through the 12th stage has left the cycling world perplexed, with his team director saying he is “confused and disappointed” by the Australian’s decision.
The current world time trial champion, Dennis was among the favorites to win Friday’s stage in Pau, but he walked away from the race on Thursday after stopping at a feed station with 130 kilometers remaining.
“It was his decision today to stop at the feed zone,” Bahrain Merida team director Gorazd Stangelj told reporters.
“We tried to speak to him, we stopped also with the car and tried to find a solution, what was going on, and he said just I don’t want to talk and abandoned the race.”
When asked if Dennis’ withdrawal was about his physical condition, his mental well being, or his dissatisfaction with his bike, Stangelj said he didn’t think these were issues.
However, he added that Dennis was “a special guy, all the champions are … he’s a guy who wants to have everything 100%. It’s not easy to have everything 100% in the race.”
The Bahrain Merida team initially released a message saying it was concerned for the “welfare” of its riders and would be launching an investigation into what happened to the 29-year-old Australian.
Dennis reportedly traveled by team car to the finish line after withdrawing from the race, where he declined to speak with the waiting media.
“I am very disappointed to leave the race at this point,” Dennis, who won the first stage of the Tour in 2015, told the Bahrain Merida website.
“Obviously the individual time trial had been a big goal for me and the team, but given my current feeling it was the right decision to withdraw earlier today.
“I wish my teammates the very best for the remainder of the race and would like to thank all the Tour de France fans who cheered for me, at home and on the roadside, since Brussels. I will hopefully be back competing in this great race again over the coming seasons.”
French rider Julian Alaphilippe currently leads the individual standings of the Tour, with last year’s champion Geraint Thomas in second.