Fans be warned - move away from that Kiwi cycling star.

Road racer George Bennett has been ordered to stop shaking hands with fans, or getting too close to them, as he tries to shake free of the illnesses which are hurting his career.

Bennett was laid low by glandular fever in 2016, and the disappointments last year included having to quit the Tour de France within coughing distance of becoming the first Kiwi to finish in the top 10.

The 27-year-old Nelson rider, who races for LottoNL-Jumbo, told Radio Sport that he's effectively been quarantined from fans.


"It's a million dollar question and we've just employed a couple of new nutritionists ... maybe it is something to look at in terms of diet," Bennett said, when asked how he planned to keep sickness at bay.

"But the major thing is far less fan interaction. My team has criticised me a lot about that over the last few months. People come up to the bus, people want to shake your hand, people want autographs and that sort of stuff.

"That's really easy to get sick from doing that stuff. I have to get the distance interaction happening.

"There are all sorts of things but definitely a no hand shaking policy has come in.

"It's so unnatural — you see a mate or someone comes all the way to Italy from New Zealand and the first thing you want to do is shake their hand, ask them where they are from, how long they are there for.

"I've basically had it drilled into me over the past few months to shut that down."

Bennett said it was "very strange" for a New Zealander to greet any compatriot with a health-conscious aloofness, whereas Europeans riders "just see fans as fans".

"In New Zealand everyone is a mate, it will definitely be a strange thing to get used to," he said.

"I guess you also need an element of luck ... I'm sure your immune system has some effect if you are training to hard you are more prone. Did I get too skinny or unlucky?"

Bennett has just completed the Tour Downunder and lines up in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong on Sunday.

He will spend most of February in New Zealand before returning to Europe and building up for the Giro D'Italia in May. That preparation will be based around altitude camps and using the five-day Tour of the Alps as a "sharpener".

"I'll live the real New Zealand life for a few weeks before I go back to Europe and get stuck into the season," he said.

"It's far more important to see family and friends than doing pre-season camps or training, so I don't spend nine or 10 months in Europe hanging out to get home."