LottoNL-Jumbo pull Bennett from Giro d’Italia due to low cortisol levels

Kiwi rider out of action for at least eight days due to MPCC rules

The LottoNL-Jumbo team has announced that Kiwi rider George Bennett will not start the Giro d’Italia after pre-race UCI tests revealed he had a low cortisol level.

Bennett is allowed to race under UCI rules but the Dutch LottoNL-Jumbo team is part of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclise Credible (MPCC), who rules stop riders for racing with low cortisol level to safeguard their health above and beyond the UCI rules.

Low cortisol levels can be indicative of the use of cortisone or due to other health issues. Bennett recently completed a long training camp at altitude on Teide, returning to sea level after May 1. He raced for the Radioshack team until 2013, joining Cannondale for 2014 and LottoNL-Jumbo for 2015.

The LottoNL-Jumbo team confirmed Bennett in its roster on Friday morning and he attended the afternoon team presentation. However in a brief statement published on its Facebook page on Friday night, the team said it would start Saturday’s team time trial with just eight riders and than Bennett would not start the Giro d’Italia “because of health conditions”. 

“The team made this decision since the rider from New Zealand appeared to have a low cortisol level in a regular pre-race UCI test, which could be an indication of sub optimal health conditions. Bennett cannot be replaced by another rider,” the message reads.

“Today (Friday) the team received an email from the UCI that low cortisol levels were measured in the regular UCI pre-race test last Thursday. According to the UCI Bennett is allowed to start in the Giro. Team LottoNL-Jumbo is a member of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible) and the MPCC’s rules state that riders with cortisol levels that are too low, should not race for eight days until these levels are within normal range.”

Bennett’s case appears similar to that of Chris Horner and Theo Bos. The veteran American was unable to start the 2014 Vuelta a Espana as defending champion after tests detected a low cortisol level after he was treated with cortisone for bronchitis after the Tour de France and Tour of Utah. Bos was forced to pull out of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana the day before the race after tests detected low cortisol levels. He eventually returned to racing after a month.

There was no initial reaction from Bennett about his withdrawal from the Giro d'Italia.  

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