Ben O’Connor’s surprise Stage 9 win should motivate him and his team to push for podium finish at the Tour de France.
The AG2R Citroen rider claimed his first ever stage win of the race, finishing 5:07 ahead of Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and sending him flying up the general classification.
At one stage, he even found himself close to the virtual yellow jersey until a remarkable display from race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) saw him re-establish his supremacy at the top of the standings.
Tour de France
'I was scared' - Stage 9 winner O'Connor admits Pogacar fears despite victory
- Ben O’Connor seizes Stage 9 win, Pogacar retains yellow jersey ahead of rest day
- 'I was scared' - Stage 9 winner O'Connor admits Pogacar fears despite victory
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O’Connor’s performance has taken him up to second in GC, 2:01 behind the reigning champion, and speaking on Eurosport’s The Breakaway Dan Lloyd says that’s where the Australian should look to remain over the next fortnight.
“Ben O’Conner will have now his eyes set on the podium after this stage,” he said.
“He’s been so consistent in the biggest world tour stage races, the week long ones that came in before the Tour de France.
“Given his pedigree there and what we’ve seen from him today, he wasn’t climbing any slower than the GC riders behind despite having been in the breakaway for most of the day.”
'It's mindblowing' O'Connor reacts to Stage 9 win
With the first rest day coming up next, Lloyd believes this could play into O’Connor’s hands and that his team should look to press on and help him last a top three finish.
“He’s got the advantage that his big effort today is followed with nearly 48 hours of rest with the rest day coming tomorrow," continued Lloyd.
“Once they’ve had their celebrations this evening at AG2R Citroen then they’ll recalibrate their ambitions for this race and think ‘why not’?
“You’ve got three minutes on the next rider on the general classification so even if you do have a small ‘off day’ you’ve still have a chance of finishing on the podium behind Pogacar at the end and as we keep saying, anything can happen.
“That can definitely be a goal for the Australian and for AG2R.”
Highlights as O'Connor takes Stage 9 victory on wet and windy day in the Alps
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