Riding in his first Giro d'Italia in his debut WorldTour season, Ben O'Connor has been consistently impressive, climbing to 12th overall and third in the best young rider standings in the third week. But stage 19 ended his dream Grand Tour debut when he crashed on the descent from Sestriere and fractured his collarbone.
"For me it was a disappointing day for sure," O'Connor said after the stage in a Dimension Data team video. "I was able to stay with some of the favourites up Finestre, and the atmosphere up there was absolutely unreal."
The 22-year-old was riding well, tucked in a chasing group with Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) that ultimately finished just over eight minutes down on stage winner Chris Froome. He was riding his way into the top 10 overall, but then disaster struck.
"I ran wide on a gritty surface and did a bit of a front flip. I'm not cut up, but I landed straight on my shoulder and broke my collarbone," he said.
"It's just a huge disappointment because it was an unexpected kind of a dream and to not finish it off is fairly disappointing. There's no other word for it."
O'Connor will head to Germany for surgery over the weekend and then begin his recouperation both physically and mentally.
"The rehab will also be a bit of rest because this Giro has been a breakthrough and my body also needs rest, not just the collarbone," he said.
After also losing Louis Meintjes to illness, the departure of O'Connor leaves Dimension Data without its GC contenders. Ben King is the team's best placed rider in 44th place nearly two hours down on new race leader Froome.