Aussie Focus

O'Connor confident ahead of time trial to decide fourth

Ben O’Connor is confident he can hold onto fourth place in the general classification standings ahead of the 2021 Tour de France Stage 20 individual time trial on Saturday night (AEST).

O'Connor, 25, has exceeded all expectations during his Tour de France debut and a fourth place finish is certainly within reach ahead of the penultimate stage.

While he trails a place on the podium by 2’27”, fifth-placed Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the Australian's immediate threat - breathing down his neck, just 32 seconds behind.

Speaking ahead of last night's (AEST) 19th stage, an upbeat O'Connor said he was ready to battle it out against the Dutchman.

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"The time trial is really pretty simple to be honest," O'Connor said.

"I'm definitely not focussing on the guys in front, that's way too far.

"But it's really just a little battle between me and Wilco Kelderman to see who is going to be fourth and fifth.

"We're pretty similar and I know I can do a good time trial.

"I'll for sure try to hold onto fourth place and I think I can."

Meanwhile, compatriot and SBS Tour de France co-host David McKenzie weighed in on whether the AG2R-Citroen rider can hold onto fourth to claim Australia's third-best finish at the Tour - behind Cadel Evans and Richie Porte - and a record best on debut.

"If we look at the Stage 5 individual time trial - which was almost a very similar distance - there was only seven seconds which separated O'Connor and Kelderman," McKenzie told Christophe Mallet during Saturday's edition of the Zwift Cycling Central Podcast.

"I don't think there is going to be much that will separate them.

"O'Connor has got a 32-second buffer, which is doable for Kelderman if he has an absolute blinder.

"But on the same note, if Ben has a blinder he could gain another 30 seconds on Kelderman.



"So I'm going to meet halfway and say there will be 15 seconds between them and it could go either way.

"It's going to be a really good time trial to watch, it's going to be fascinating."

The Tour de France continues with tomorrow's Stage 20, an individual time trial over 30.8 kilometres from Libourne to Saint-Emilion which will see GC riders attempt to battle for second and third on the podium. Watch the action from 8:30pm (AEST) on SBS and SBS On Demand with coverage starting on the SKODA Tour Tracker from 8:55pm (AEST). 


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3 min read
Published 17 July 2021 at 1:25pm
By Patrick Nugent