Rohan Dennis off Tour Down Under as meningitis sets in
ROHAN Dennis will be resting in bed instead of trying to win the Tour Down Under in his home state of South Australia this week.
The 22-year-old Adelaide flyer, a member of Australia's silver medal-winning teams pursuit quartet at the London Olympics, has withdrawn after being diagnosed with viral meningitis, an infection of the covering of the spinal cord and brain.
Dennis, the 2012 under-23 national road and time trial champion, won the mountains and young rider classification at last year's Tour Down Under, where he finished fifth overall riding for the UniSA team.
He was due to make his WorldTour debut with his new team, Garmin Sharp, in the six-stage event that starts today.
He said he had felt ill for a few days before finally deciding to see a doctor.
"I'd been putting up with it for a while thinking it was just a really bad head cold," he said.
"I'm really disappointed, but sh*t happens.
"I'll just have to recover and aim for another race."
Dennis was tipped to be the leader of the Garmin Sharp team, a line-up that includes fellow Aussies Nathan Haas, Steele von Hoff and David Morton.
While Dennis will have to sit out this year's race, two-time winner, German Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), has shown his intentions early after winning the curtain-raiser to it, the 51km (30 lap) People's Choice Classic around Adelaide's Rymill Park, on Sunday evening.
The Tour winner in 2008 and 2010 and four-time Tour de France stage winner, whose nickname is the "Gorilla", finished a bike-length ahead of Aussie Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Goss will be joined in the Orica-GreenEDGE line-up this week by fellow Aussies, including defending champion Simon Gerrans who is looking to win the event for a third time.
The Australian-owned team also includes Stuart O'Grady, who won the inaugural Tour Down Under in 1999, recently crowned national road race champion Luke Durbridge, and Simon Clarke.
On your bike for the 2013 Tour Down Under
- Stage 1 - Today: Prospect - Lobethal (135km)
- Stage 2 - Tomorrow: Mount Barker - Rostrevor (116.5km)
- Stage 3 - Thursday: Unley - Stirling (139 km)
- Stage 4 - Friday: Modbury - Tanunda (126.5km)
- Stage 5 - Saturday: McLaren Vale - O ld Willunga Hill (151.5km)
- Stage 6 - Sunday: Adelaide (90 km)