Defending champion Stefan Denifl has been ruled out of participation in the 2018 Tour of Austria following a training accident in which he sustained a concussion. The 30-year-old now faces a period of rest and recovery in line with the team’s Post-Concussion Return to Cycling Protocol, under the close supervision of his and the team’s doctors.

The Aqua Blue Sport rider was making his final preparations for the race in his native Tyrol region this week when he crashed on a descent in the Zillertal valley, suffering an impact to his head. No third parties were involved and no other injuries were sustained.

Speaking following confirmation that he would be unable to compete in the race’s 70th edition, Denifl said he was devastated.

“It is bitterly disappointing to be denied the opportunity to defend my title in the 2018 Österreich Rundfahrt,”
Denifl said.

“Nevertheless concussion must be taken extremely seriously and I appreciate the necessity of abiding by the relevant protocols. My priority now is to look after my health and to make a full and speedy recovery.

“To all my fans and supporters, especially in my home village of Fulpmes where the second stage will finish, I apologise – I only wish I could be there. To my family and friends and medical professionals, thank you for your support in a difficult time and to all involved with the 2018 Österreich Rundfahrt I wish you a safe and successful race.

“To add… credit to my helmet for saving my life or at the very least, preventing a much worse outcome.”

Denifl will be replaced in the seven-strong team lineup by reserve rider Andy Fenn, a member of the squad that helped his teammate to victory in 2017.

The Tour of Austria gets underway Saturday, July 7 with a 152.8km stage starting and finishing in Feldkirch.


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