Sam Bennett struck down with illness ahead of Tour Down Under

Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) has been hit with illness ahead of next week's Tour Down Under and forced into quarantine in a bid to shield his teammates.

The Irishman travelled to Adelaide with Peter Sagan and the rest of his teammates last week but picked up a head cold on the journey. He has barely trained since then and could be in doubt for the People's Choice Classic on Sunday, but he believes he has turned a corner as he aims to recover for the first WorldTour race of the season.

"I got something on the flight over here and then on the first day of training I was doing 180 watts and my heart-rate was at 160," Bennett told Cyclingnews.

"The next day I couldn't train, and I've not been able to train for about a week now. I did do three hours yesterday but didn't feel good. I'll see how I go today and then tomorrow it's a rest-day and it's meant to be raining. It's just a head cold and I was really bunged up. I thought that I'd get rid of it in a day or two but everyday it's just dragged on."

The People's Choice Classic, a city-centre criterium in downtown Adelaide, typically raises the curtain on the Tour Down Under. Bennett finished second in the Classic last year and was expected to be among Caleb Ewan's (Mitchelton-Scott) main challengers in the sprints over the next fortnight. That now looks uncertain, although Bennett admitted that he has turned the corner in the last couple of days.

"Hopefully I'll be able to do the Classic," he said. "I'll need a good blow out before the Tour Down Under. It's important to have that intensity beforehand, otherwise the Tour Down Under will be too much of a shot to the body."

Bennett isn't the only rider to have been struck down with illness. According to the Irishman his teammate Peter Kennaugh has been under the weather, and riders from other teams have also been hit.

"A lot of the guys got it and a lot guys on other teams have it now too," he said. "I've had to have my own room so it doesn't spread, eaten a lot of fruit and I've just tried to drink loads. I'm better than last week, but yesterday I did two hours and the energy levels were gone at that point. We'll see. I feel a bit better today.

"Before that, I was really happy with the off-season. I managed to stay healthy all season. So it's a pity I got sick here."

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