Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Ben O’Connor put in a huge performance on stage 5 of Tour of Austria. O’Connor was on the attack the whole day and at the end, he finished it off beautifully with a solo victory.
With 213 km and more than 3000 meters of climbing to overcome, today’s stage was definitely one of the hardest ones in this year’s Tour of Austria. However, it didn’t prevent O’Connor from attacking already on the first categorized climb of the day.
The 21-year-old Australian jumped away from the peloton to join a small but strong group of riders at the front. When the breakaway started on the biggest challenge of the stage, the HC-climb Hochtor, the group began to split up as only two riders could follow O’Connor’s pace. Yesterday’s stage winner Miguel Ángel Lopez (Astana) attacked from the peloton and managed to bridge across, ultimately leaving only him and O’Connor at the front.
With about 40 km to go, O’Connor put in yet another attack to go solo. However, as the chase group behind him grew in size, he didn’t get too far ahead. Meanwhile, both Daniel Teklehaimanot and Mekseb Debesay had joined the group. If anybody thought the many attacks had left O’Connor empty for the final part of the stage, he proved that wasn’t the case. With 20 km left to go, he attacked once again together with Riccardo Zoidl (Team Felbermayr – Simplon Wels). The duo quickly opened up a big gap and left the chase group behind for good.
As the two riders took on the final kilometer, the road started to kick up again. Soon after, a tireless O’Connor put in his final attack. This time, nobody was able to follow him and O’Connor soloed away to take his first victory in the colors of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) finished in 10th place to keep the yellow jersey, while O’Connor moved up to fifth place overall after today’s impressive performance. Teklehaimanot is seventh in the general classification.
“This has been an absolutely magical stage for me. It was super long and super tough. I actually had a small crash at the start but I managed to get back on my bike right away. I then saw a chance and bridged across to the front group. We worked well together and later Lopez joined us. Then, in the headwind, we were able to sit in and save a little energy. In the final part of the stage, I managed to slip away with Zoidl since the group wasn’t very organized. As we started on the final climb, I knew Zoidl was suffering and since I felt really good myself, I took my chance with 600 meters to go and just went full gas. I managed to drop him and take the win. This is really incredible”.