Sam Bennett has seen the severity of his knee injury publicly questioned by his team manager.
Last year's green jersey-winner has been forced to withdraw from this year's renewal of the Tour de France due to an injury sustained in training.
"I was just riding along and my gears slipped", Bennett told the Irish Independent on Monday.
The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter's place on the Deceuninck Quick Step team goes to Mark Cavendish. The Manxman will be making a first appearance on Le Tour since 2018.
It was expected that Bennett would be fit for Saturday's Grand Départ in Brest, with news leaking last week that he'd won his battle to make the team.
After confirming the team to take part in this year's Tour, Deceuninck Quick Step chief Pat Lefevre hasn't been shy in questioning Bennett's sincerity.
"I can't prove he doesn't have knee pain, but I'm starting to think more and more that it's more fear of failure than just pain", he told Sporza.
While speaking with Het Laatse Nieuws, Lefevre said, "We thought Bennett was on the right track.
"Then it turns out that he has told us anything but the truth. He said three different things to three different people on the squad. That's not the way it's played.
"Bennett was supposed to fly to Belgium on Sunday evening. First, we were told his flight was delayed.
"That turned out to be the case. Then there was talk of overbooking.
"And then it is precisely Bennett who no longer gets a seat on the plane? I am not suspicious by nature, but then I start to ask myself questions."
Lefevre added, "Behind our backs, he turns out to have gone to a physiotherapist in Monaco, who said he could train better. Some kind of miracle man, you know that.
"It's a shame that a 30-year-old guy doesn't dare to tell the truth. With the exception of Julian Alaphilippe, we had built the whole squad around him. So Cavendish takes his place."
Bennett is to leave Deceuninck Quick Step at the end of this season, with a return to Bora Hansgrohe mooted.
Asked if the move had informed Bennett's decision to withdraw, Lefevre said, "If that's the case, that would say a lot about him, after everything I've done for him."
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