A BIZARRE accident took Garmin-Sharp cyclist Rohan Dennis off his bike yesterday and left him battered and bruised, with a slim chance of competing in Sunday’s road race.
Dennis was 14 kilometres into the Cycling Australia Road National time trial event at Burrumbeet when what was described as a “mini-tornado” threw him from the bike.
The incident comes as the championships prepare
to hit overdrive:
• Tour de France champion Cadel Evans is expected to be confirmed as a participant in Sunday’s road race.
• Thousands of spectators are expected to flock to the CBD tonight for the criterium races.
• Michael Hepburn and Felicity Wardlaw took out the men’s and women’s time trials.
South Australian Sports Institute cycling manager Brett Aitken was travelling in the support van following Dennis when the wind system formed within seconds and shot across the road, cleaning up the cyclist who was travelling about 65 km/h.
“The whirlwind came from the side and took his wheel like a sail from underneath him,” Aitken said.
“It took his bike from being vertical to horizontal in a split second, so you’re talking
about a metre off the ground.
“It was just one of those things where Mother Nature hits you head-on.”
Miraculously, the 23-year-old got back on his bike, and continued riding for a kilometre, before realising the extent of his injuries.
Dennis was admitted to Ballarat Base Hospital at 4.45pm after receiving prior treatment at the course.
He was the only rider who had any issues during the event.
Aitken – an Olympic gold medallist – said in 35 years of cycling he had never seen anything like it.
“The riders were doing some pretty crazy speeds down the straight. Suddenly the wind changed direction and it was just a big whirlwind,” he said.
Despite initial hopes that Dennis would be in shape for Sunday’s much-hyped road race, Aitken said the injuries were worse
than first thought.
“He has a pretty big haematoma on his hip and has lost skin everywhere. There is a pretty major issue with his ankle,” he said.
“At first I thought he would ride on Sunday because it was just the psychological aspect of a nasty crash. But once we got back to the residence, we noticed that his hip was blowing up more and he had sharp pains in his ankle.
“There’s probably a 20 per cent chance he will ride on Sunday. We are not sure yet if anything is broken.”
Aitken said it was devastating to see the unfortunate result for Dennis.
“He’s most gutted because he knew he had the best form to win this year,” Aitken said.
“It was quite an incredible effort but incredibly disappointing because we thought we were in for a winning ride.
“He had done all the work to potentially be national champion by now.”
Dennis won the Under-23 Road Race Championship at the cycling nationals in