Giro d’Italia #6: O’ Connor moves into 13th in the GC

Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates made it a Mitchelton-Scott one- two as they crossed the finish line on Mount Etna. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) placed third. For Team Dimension Data, Ben O’Connor finished in 12th place on the stage and moved up to 13th on the general classification.

Today was another stage for the GC favourites, with Mount Etna providing the stage for a battle of the favourites. Today’s stage ran 164km, stretching from Caltanissetta to Etna. The finishing climb up Mount Etna ran for 15km at a 6.5% average gradient.

The first 50km of racing saw many attacks, including Natnael Berhane for Team Dimension Data. Knowing that a break could lead to some trouble later in the day, the peloton were watchful. Eventually a break of 28 riders went clear and Jacques Janse van Rensburg was in the break for Team Dimension Data.

The peloton, lead by BMC and Astana, worked very hard to keep the break in check and as they edged towards Mount Etna, the lead was around minute. As the race hit the climb, the peloton fractured with on the steep gradients. Louis Meintjes lost contact with the group a few kms into the climb and had to ride his own tempo to the summit. Ben O’Connor attached himself to GC group and rode strongly to only lose contact when the final attacks started with 2km to go.

Esteben Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) was given right of passage to take the stage win by teammate, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) rounding off the podium. Ben O’Connor finished 12th, 43 seconds behind Chaves. He currently sits in 13th in the GC and 2nd in the young rider competition, with Louis Meintjes in 26th overall.

Ben O’Connor- Rider
The start today took a long time to establish – eventually a big group went with Jacques there but was kept within reach as Chaves was there. It was not an easy day – but Igor, Jaco, And Ryan guided Louis and I very well until the base of Etna. It was hard tempo for the first 12km were I was left in the final 20 or so guys… and then for the final 6km as it pinched up steeper the attacks flowed. I did my best to not jump as I knew I would suffer if I followed immediately. With about 2.5km to go I was detached, but kept my cool and tried to limit the loss still hoping to maybe grab the white jersey. I just missed it sadly, but it’s certainly within reach later in the week and really I’m so pleased to be up there with the best again on one of the most iconic climbs around and in the Giro d’Italia! Wow!