Cyclist Luke Durbridge receives late Tokyo Olympics call up

Australia’s Tour de France young gun Ben O’Connor is unavailable for Tokyo, paving the way for Luke Durbridge to finally make his Olympic debut.

Durbridge, a five-time national champion in road events, has been selected as a late injury replacement for Jack Haig in the Games road race team.

Haig crashed out of the Tour de France in the opening week, suffering a broken collarbone and concussion.

O’Connor was fifth overall in his Tour debut with four stages left and appeared the obvious choice to come in for Haig.

But AusCycling confirmed that O’Connor has made himself unavailable for Tokyo.

“A number of riders, including Ben O’Connor, have prioritised their Tour de France ambitions over the Olympic Games, which is completely understandable,” team performance director Simon Jones said in an AusCycling statement.

It is the second change to the men’s road team since it was named on May 20, with Cameron Meyer withdrawing because his father is gravely ill.

Meyer’s replacement Lucas Hamilton has also crashed out of the Tour with a dislocated shoulder, but at this stage he is still going to Tokyo.

The men’s road team for Tokyo is now Richie Porte as the main medal hope, time-trial specialist Rohan Dennis, Durbridge and Hamilton.

Porte and Durbridge are competing in the Tour, but Dennis is not.

Durbridge, renowned as one of the sport’s top domestiques, will have a support role for Porte in the hilly men’s road race on July 24.

Porte will then join Dennis in the road time-trial on July 28.

Durbridge, 30, has had to wait for his Olympic debut despite a strong career, first on the track in the team pursuit and then as a road rider.

He was a 2011 world champion in the team pursuit.

The West Australian has been a mainstay at Australian professional road team Bike Exchange as a domestique since its 2012 formation.

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