Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh have led an exodus of Team Sky riders from next month’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Welsh cyclist Thomas, part of Great Britain’s Olympic gold medal winning team pursuit quartet, was due to ride the individual pursuit and men’s road race.
While 21-year-old Isle of Man rider Kennaugh had entered the points race and, alongside Mark Cavendish, the scratch event.
But, amid security fears, the risk of dengue fever and reports of unfinished venues and unsuitable accommodation, Thomas and British scratch champion Kennaugh have decided not to compete.
And the duo have been joined by England’s Ben Swift and Ian Stannard and New Zealand sprinter Greg Henderson in opting out.
“I was going to be out there for quite a long time doing the track and the road and there’s a high risk of getting ill,” said Thomas.
Isle of Man cycling team manager Gary Hines added: “Peter feels like he’s let people down but he can’t take any health risks as he has a busy time ahead.
“Peter is really disappointed, he was so proud to be representing the Isle of Man in Delhi.”
Henderson had said on his Twitter feed: “[I’m] seriously starting to reconsider my Commonwealth Games participation.”
And the Kiwi rider soon became the fifth Team Sky rider to quit the Games.
“It’s about my family, it’s not just about Greg Henderson any more, I’ve got to think about my wife and little girl Charlie and they don’t want me going to the Commonwealth Games,” said Henderson.
“There are just too many risks and in this situation the cons outweigh the pros. Who knows exactly what’s gone on there.
“Realistically it’s probably going to be OK and the Games will go on, but where I am in my career, at the moment the negatives outweigh the pros.”
But Team Sky principal David Brailsford has denied the British pro team influenced their riders’ decisions.
“These situations are down to the choice of the athletes themselves. We at Team Sky can make recommendations to the athletes but the ultimate decision lies with them,” said Brailsford.
“Given the situation they have found themselves in with the Commonwealth Games nobody would blame the athletes for staying away, but there is no instruction from Team Sky on this issue.”
Wales had issued Commonwealth Games organisers a deadline of last night to give assurances that the athletes’ village and venues would be ready – but the team, minus Thomas, have now decided to travel.
“Further to the statement issued by Team Wales yesterday, Team Wales would like to advise all media that the Commonwealth Games Federation has received assurances from the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee that all venues and village are fit for purpose,” read a Team Wales statement.
“We are confident in the assurances that have been provided. The advance party will now be moving into our accommodation and we look forward to welcoming our athletes in the coming days.”