Australian yellow jersey hope Ben O’Connor withdraws from the Tour de France through injury

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Australian yellow jersey hope Ben O’Connor has withdrawn from the Tour de France with a buttock injury.

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The 26-year-old West Australian finished fourth at last year’s Tour and spectacularly won the mountainous stage nine from Cluses to Tignes with a 17km solo effort.

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However, after starting this year’s ninth stage with the sole aim of finishing and in obvious pain, the AG2R Citroën leader has called time on his challenge.

“In the stage to Lausanne I tore my glute muscle,” O’Connor said.

“It’s like pedalling with one leg.”

“I fought it yesterday, I really wanted to see if I can get past this point of pain [but] it’s just too much.

“So it’s pretty brutal.”

O’Connor came into the race a genuine podium chance, having finished in third place in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

However, after his spectacular debut last year, this Tour has been the very definition of a tough second album, plagued by a litany of issues.

After losing a minute on the opening stage time trial, O’Connor was caught up in a crash on stage two — although he lost no time.

Ben O'Connor is shown with sunglasses and dirt on his face
The cracks started to show for O’Connor on the cobbles of stage five when he lost four minutes.(AP: Daniel Cole)

On the cobbles of stage five he lost four minutes to his general classification rivals, before limping through to the race’s second rest day at the back of the peloton, often seen talking with his team car and motioning to his left buttock.

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O’Connor entered the rest day in 86th place overall, 49 minutes and 42 seconds behind race leader, Tadej Pogačar, with his AG2R Citroën team deciding it was no use risking him further.

O’Connor will now target the Vuelta a España later in the year.



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