New Zealand has been dealt a double blow ahead of the World Championships with George Bennett and Jaime Nielsen forced out with illness. Both riders were to contest the men and women's time trial in Bergen next week.
Bennett has been battling illness since falling sick at the Tour de France in July. The LottoNL-Jumbo rider started the Vuelta a Espana last month but also forced to abandon the Grand Tour due to illness. With his focus on his long term health and career, Bennett explained that withdrawing from the New Zealand squad was the 'best' option.
"The last few weeks has been a real battle with the virus that took me out of the Tour and pushing myself too hard for the Vuelta was not a good option," Bennett said. "In the end I wasn't getting better and instead of risking the big goals for next year my team wanted me to stop.
"I'm not able to get to worlds in the condition needed to make an impact and so it's best to pull out."
Nielsen, the current national time trial champion, had recently shown her form and condition with fastest sea level time for the one-hour time trial. The record was set at the Avantidrome in Cambridge in late July.
New Zealand won't fill the vacant time trial position for Bennett despite Paddy Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac) initially being named as a reserve. Hamish Bond is the sole Kiwi representative in the men's time trial with former world champion Linda Villumsen (Team VeloCONCEPT) the sole rider for the women's time trial.
The men's team for the road race will feature Bevin, Jack Bauer (Quick Step-Floors), and Dion Smith (Wanty Group Gobert). The two-rider women's team is made up of Villumsen and Georgia Williams (Orica-Scott).