GC favourites crash ahead of Queen Stage
The Tour of Turkey turns uphill, but climbers Ben O’Connor and Remco Evenepoel will have to contend for general classification following Stage 4 spills …
The most pivotal of the two accidents came when Belgian Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) slide into a barrier after a hard turn just outside the final kilometre (1.5km) in the old Ottoman capital of Bursa. Despite the fall, Evenepoel told Eurosport he suffered no injuries and felt positive about his effort with the queen stage summit finish now on deck.
“[The team] told me when they attacked, just follow and I did it, and then there was one pretty sharp corner and the guy in front of me crashed. Ic outdent go anywhere because it was at a pretty high speed. I just fell over him.
“I’m fine, nothing hurts,” the 19-year-old neo pro continued. “But the feeing is good, I did what I had to do.”
Ben O’Connor (Team Dimension Data) did not fair as well after taking a tumble with less than 70km to go. The 23-year-old Australian responded to a concerned fan on Twitter after the stage.
“It’s all a mental challenge now #couldhavebeenworse” tweeted the 2018 Tour of the Alps stage winner.
The Perth native explained the accident to Eurosport via direct message shortly after the Tweet: “The bunch squeezed just after we tried to split it in the crosswinds, and my front wheel got swept up in that.”
Dimension Data teammate Ryan Gibbons (RSA) talked to Eurosport about O’Connor’s injuries and the team’s support heading into the potentially race-deciding 164.1km penultimate stage on Saturday.
“We are really confident in Ben, we back him a lot,” said the South African regarding O’Connor’s GC chances on the 20km climb to the mountaintop finish. “Unfortunately, he crashed really, really hard today. Took a lot of skin off. I don’t think he has any skin left on his left side. He looks all right though, so hopefully he’ll be kind of OK to start tomorrow.
“We still back him and we believe he can pull something off.”