It was a legendary ride from the Aussie at the Tour De France
In a cold and rainy race through the Alps and in his first ever Tour de France, it was 25-year-old West Australian rider Ben O’Connor who came away with the win, making him the 13th Australian to win a stage at the Tour De France.
At the start of stage 9, O’Connor, riding for team AG2R Citroen Team, was placed 14th overall and was eight minutes behind race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). After a victorious 144.9k ride from Cluses to Tignes, he managed to gain back six minutes to put himself second on the general classification and a strong contender for a podium finish in Paris.
“I was scared that Tadej was going to explode from behind and catch me when it got hard, but I knew if stayed steady and didn’t cramp then I could win the stage," said O'Connor. "As soon as you think, ‘I can win a stage of the Tour de France’, all sorts of things happen to your mind, your lungs, your heart. It can make your heart stop, it definitely stopped mine just before!”
O’Connor has become the 13th Australian to win a stage at the Tour, and just the second to win a mountain-top finish, the first being Simon Gerrans on stage 15 in 2008.
"It's always a dream. Just to be here in the first place is already the first dream. To achieve this today - it's a testament to everyone who's put faith in me over the years, my fiancé, my parents, my best mates back in Australian, my friends in Andorra and Girona, it's been a wild ride."
List of Australians who have won stages in the Tour De France:
Robbie McEwan (12)
Caleb Ewan (5)
Michael Matthews (3)
Stuart O’Grady (2)
Bradley McGee (2)
Phil Anderson (2)
Simon Gerrans (2)
Cadel Evans (2)
Michael Rogers (1)
Neil Stephens (1)
Rohan Dennis (1)
Baden Cooke (1)
Heinrich Haussler (1)
Ben O’Connor (1)