Rohan Dennis [Garmin-Sharp] will start this weekend's Australian National Road Race, according to team manager Jonathan Vaughers, despite being blown off his bike during the time trial event on Wednesday.
"He's ok, he's not happy and he's lost some skin, but no broken bones or concussion," Vaughters told Cyclingnews. "Our assumption is that he will ride the road race, unless something worsens. You never know, but right now we are planning on him riding in the road race."
The former under-23 national champion was travelling at around 65kph, 14km into the course, when the wind swept across the road and threw him from his bike. South Australian Sports Institute cycling manager Brett Aitken was travelling behind Dennis in the support van at the time. "The whirlwind came from the side and took his wheel like a sail from underneath him," he told the Ballarat Courier.
"It took his bike from being vertical to horizontal in a split second, so you're talking about a metre off the ground." Despite the acrobatics, Dennis climbed back on his bike and rode a further kilometre, before the injuries became too much.
This isn’t the first time that such a thing has happened. Gert Steegmans broke his collarbone during the prologue of the 2010 Paris-Nice. Andy Schleck broke his pelvis when a gust of wind took him out during the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné and had to miss the Tour de France.
Aitken reported that Dennis had lost quite a bit of skin and is suffering from a large haematoma and a swollen ankle. "He’s most gutted because he knew he had the best form to win this year," said Aitken. "It was quite an incredible effort but incredibly disappointing because we thought we were in for a winning ride."
Vaughters believes that the crash won't affect Dennis' Tour Down Under campaign, which begins on January 21, and that the hope is still for the 23-year-old to lead the team. "The goal will be to win the race," he said to Cyclingnews. "I know that he’s incredibly well prepared for it and incredibly motivated, being from Adelaide. He’s our leader for that race and the team that we’re sending is there to support him. Until he tells me otherwise we’re sticking with that plan."
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