Accomplished rider leaves Tour de France mid-stage, doesn't give team an explanation

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Cassandra Negley
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ALBI, FRANCE - JULY 15: Start / Rudy Project Helmet / Rohan Dennis of Australia and Team Bahrain-Merida / during the 106th Tour de France 2019, Stage 10 a 217,5km stage from Saint-Flour to Albi / TDF / #TDF2019 / @LeTour / on July 15, 2019 in Albi, France. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Rohan Dennis of Australia and Team Bahrain-Merida disappeared from the Tour de France during Stage 13. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Rohan Dennis, an accomplished Australian Olympic silver medalist and world champion time trial rider, abruptly abandoned the Tour de France on Thursday without telling his team he had left the race. It resulted in a short time during which no one knew where he was and his Bahrain-Merida team sent out messages concerned about his welfare.

No one yet knows why he walked off the course the day before a short time trial he was the favorite to win, but they did find him at the finish line at the end of the race.

Rider vanishes from stage 12 of Tour

Dennis disappeared during the stage from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre and for a short while he was treated as a missing individual. The team released the following tweet during the race.

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Dennis, 29, was seen at the finish line when racers crossed and his bike was up against the team car when his team drove by the feed zone. He was an individual stage winner in 2015 and quit the current race with approximately 80 kilometers until the two big climbs of the day, per the AP.

Why did Dennis quit the Tour de France?

No one knows why the racer left at this point. Team director Gorazd Stangelj released a statement saying they were also befuddled about the events of the day and were disappointed.

Via The Associated Press:

“We are also confused. It was his decision today to stop [the race] at the feed zone. We tried to speak with him, he said ‘I just don’t want to talk,’ and abandoned the race.”

A French TV station broadcasting the race said Dennis had an argument with team officials in the team car, per an earlier AP report.

From the AP:

When asked if Dennis had been difficult to work with before, Stangelj said “it’s difficult to answer this question.”

“But I never have hard discussions with him,” he insisted. “We always found a solution when it was needed.”

Stangelj told Velo News Magazine that the team management and Dennis had gotten along fine this season. It’s the rider’s first year with the team after four with BMC Racing Team.

He told AP he was not aware of any concern from Dennis over his role with the team, denying that he might be frustrated with the main goal of putting former champion Vincenzo Nibali on the podium.

Dennis drops out before best chance

Dennis is the reigning world time trial champion and won the national Time Trial Championships from 2016-18. He at one point held the world hour record at 52.491 km set Feb. 8, 2015. He’s now fourth.

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Stage 13 is a short time trial in Peru and his team was expecting him to finish toward the top. He was a favorite in the race and now it’s more wide-open for other racers, including American Chad Haga.

(H/T SB Nation)

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