UPDATE: Rohan Dennis has released a statement via Bahrain Merida:
‘I am very disappointed to leave the race at this point. Obviously the individual time trial tomorrow 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."
Time trial world champion Dennis, one of the favourites for Friday’s individual effort against the clock, pulled out 80km from the finish of the 12th stage, organisers said.
The Australian’s team, Bahrain Merida, was unable to locate him for over an hour and he was eventually spotted with his bike parked against the team bus near the finish line. The team even tweeted a message about it mid race.
Dennis was seen arguing with his team car before climbing off his bike but sports director Gorazd Stangelj told reporters he ‘knew nothing about it’.
“We are also confused. I’m disappointed about what happened. We actually expected a big effort from him tomorrow,” Stangelj added.
“It was his decision today to stop in the feed zone. We tried to speak with him. He said I don’t want to talk and just abandoned the race.
“His condition is not bad, he’s good enough to perform at the Tour de France. For sure it has nothing to do with his condition.”
Asked whether Dennis was hard to work with, Slovenian Stangelj said: “I didn’t have any problem with him this season. He is a special guy, let’s say all the champions are, he is really 100 per cent when he wants something and it’s difficult to make everyone 100 per cent happy at the same moment.
“Now is the time to clear things up, to make decisions for the future,” he added, however stressing it was too soon to tell whether there would be ‘consequences’ for Dennis.