Dennis slams Tour de France withdrawal ‘backlash’
Rohan Dennis believes his withdrawal from the Tour de France mid-stage has been “blown out of proportion”, with the Australian criticising those on social media for contacting his wife.
Dennis abandoned the Tour during Stage 12 in July, one day before he was expected to challenge for the 27km individual time trial in Pau.
At the time, mystery surrounded Dennis’ withdrawal, with his own team Bahrain Merida unable to locate him for over an hour.
"It wasn't pre-planned, it wasn't a stunt, I was talking to my manager before the start and we agreed on finishing the stage and deal with everything else after but I knew that by pulling out in the short term I'd have to deal with some s***, some backlash — I didn't expect it to be this big because it's a bike race — but long term it was the best thing for me to do," Dennis said.
" The whole stage I was thinking about everything and it was a battle in my own head for a fair chunk of the day. And if someone is not in the right headspace in a team environment, if someone is not happy, maybe it's also the best thing for the team, and I spoke to the guys at the hotel that night and there were no hard feelings."
"They didn't expect it to happen, even [Vincenzo] Nibali said 'I followed you to where you pulled off and had to get going again', but it wasn't like they felt like I'd dogged them. They said 'OK, you're out, all good'."
He added: "What I did was pull out of a race, it's been blown out of proportion so much that people have slammed me for being everything under the sun.
" I've read pretty well every post (on social media) and people didn't get a response from me so they started sending my wife direct messages."
Time trial world champion Dennis, who will race at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire on Eurosport later this month, also stressed that he has actively avoided adding fuel to rumours regarding why he may have quit.
"I've come off Twitter and haven't got into a slandering match because we have given other people the chance to try to sort this out in a mature way," Dennis said. "I don't want to put any more fuel on the fire.
"Not once did I bad-mouth any sponsor or the team or any other rider when I pulled out or before I pulled out in the media. I was more than happy to talk to the media until that last day.
" Have other people said things and put out rumours? Yes. But I haven't. It's only fair for all parties."