After two stages in the mountains, today’s stage looked to be one for the fast riders. However, with an undulating first half of the day, the sprinters had to put up a big fight if they wanted to stay within contention. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Gibbons proved to be on a good day when he made the cut to be part of a 65 riders big front group. Together with four of his teammates, amongst them O’Connor, Gibbons eyed a good chance to sprint for the win.
Rich in numbers, the team took the lead on the last 10 km, setting up Gibbons for the final sprint. Unfortunately, both Daniel Teklehaimanot and Jay Thomson went down in a crash on the last kilometers, which made for a very chaotic sprint. Ultimately, Clement Venturini (Cofidis) crossed the line first, while Gibbons had to settle for third place. O’Connor finished safely in the front group, securing his fifth place in the general classification. Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) won the race overall, while Teklehaimanot finished in seventh place.
After a stage win, two additional podium places and two riders in Top10 overall, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka finished off a strong week of racing by winning the team classification in Tour of Austria.
“The finish was very hectic today. With 1500 meters to go, there was a crash at the front of the peloton, which took out Daniel [Teklehaimanot] and Jay [Thomson]. They both went down really hard. I tried to recover and I took the final corner in sixth position but that was too far back. I was only able to pass three riders so I had to settle for third place. Had the stage only been 100 meters longer, I think I would have won”.