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Tour de France

Ben O’Connor reboots after Tour de France GC hopes crumble on the cobbles

'There are still lots of opportunities for a stage win' – Ag2r captain reconfigures after early losses as Aussie podium hopes evaporate.

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There won’t likely be an Australian anthem playing on the Paris podium of the Tour de France later this month.

Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) ceded his GC ambition Thursday after seeing his hopes puncture on the pavé and hit a pot-hole on the long road to Longwy the day afterward.

The sting of a stage 3 crash crushed the 26-year-old’s legs Thursday, leaving him seven minutes back and hoping for a “Hail Mary” in the weeks to come.

“We’re disappointed. Ben told us he was on a bad day. He’s still suffering from his crash. It’s a bad day and the overall classification seems to be over,” team boss Vincent Lavenu said after seeing his leader leak more time Thursday.

“There are still lots of opportunities for a stage win, especially in the mountains. He needs to recover first then we’ll set new goals”

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O’Connor’s pivot sees Australia lose its second classification contender after Jack Haig was also casualty of the cobbles on stage 5.

“Jack had multiple abrasions and bruises over the body and required stitches for a cut above the elbow,” Bahrain-Victorious officials said after Haig hit the floor Wednesday. “CT scans also revealed multiple non-displaced wrist fractures. Fortunately, Jack had no concussion or head injury and will travel home [Thursday].”

O’Connor and Haig gave fans Down Under hopes in the mountains after Richie Porte chose the Giro d’Italia for his swansong grand tour.

O’Connor, fourth in last year’s race, got full backing from his French team and was touted alongside riders like Aleksandr Vlasov and David Gaudu for cracking a Slovenia-Ineos podium lockdown.

A triumphant stage-win on Tignes put O’Connor on the podium hunt after his early losses last year. He’s going to have to hope for another unexpected turnaround in the weeks to come.

“The Tour de France is long, and it seems another comeback after a hard first week is on the cards,” O’Connor tweeted with a laughing emoji Wednesday.

He’s got 14 stages to make that laugh alive.