Bahrain-Merida say that Rohan Dennis’s withdrawal from the 2019 Tour de France a day before the time trial is “more complicated and sensitive” than one single issue.
Dennis, the reigning world champion, was due to ride in his rainbow kit in the Pau stage 13 time trial. Instead, he pulled out midway on stage 12 without him or the team stating a specific reason.
“Well, it’s an elite sport. Everybody knows that. And you know, we’ve we see retirements from from this race for a number of different reasons, I think it would be wrong to try and pinpoint just one reason that Rohan withdrew, it’s a lot more complicated and a lot more sensitive than that,” John Allert, managing director at McLaren Pro Cycling,- one of the team’s partners – told Cycling Weekly.
“People have to respect that we want Rohan at his best. There are obviously an accumulation of different factors. 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 pulled the plug on his Tour with 84 kilometres to race in Thursday’s stage. He hopped in to a soigneur’s car, but would not speak to the team’s management when they called on the telephone.
Some have speculated that Dennis was mentally tired or that he was unhappy with the bikes and kit ahead of the important team time trial. The 29-year-old left BMC Racing over the winter to join Bahrain-Merida, and this would have been his biggest time trial since joining the team, having won the opening time trial of the Tour de Suisse back in June.
The team ride Merida bikes and use Sportful clothing.
“We’re right in that kind of epicentre of the situation now. So we’re trying very hard to not jump to easy conclusions. Like I said, it’s it’s a complicated situation. Elite sport is complicated, the performance in elite sport is complicated. So we need to disentangle a number of different issues,” continued Allert.
“Of course, if you’ve got somebody with the talent to grow, you want to see them on the road, not in the bus. And so we need to understand all of those different variables, understand how we got here and then work out what we do to remedy that to make sure that it can’t happen again.”
Dennis joined the team in the hotel last night. He spoke to Allert – who travelled to the Tour specifically for the time trial – the directors and his team-mates including Vincenzo Nibali before leaving for his home in Andorra.
Around midnight local time, the team issued a brief and vague statement from Dennis.
“I am very disappointed to leave the race at this point,” he said. “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.”