Tour of Poland #6: Ben O’Connor battles with the big guns

Jack Haig (Orica-Scott) took his maiden professional victory at the Tour of Poland today, soloing to the line to win stage 6. Wout Poels (Team Sky) brought the small group of favourites home for 2nd with Bob Jungels (Quickstep Floors) in 3rd.

It was tough day of climbing at the Tour of Poand today as 8 categorised climbs made up the 189km route, with a few additional climbs not categorised too. For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, we had lost Nathan Haas to bronchitis but looked to young Ben O’Connor and Natnael Berhane for today’s tough stage.

The sharp climbs that seemed similar to some Belgian classics in certain aspects really blew the race to pieces. With still 30km to go, only 30-odd riders remained at the head of the race and O’Connor was hanging tough, representing our African Team. On the penultimate climb of the day, Haig put in a crafty move which saw him get a gap over the rest and also resulted in the front group splitting in two.

O’Connor missed the front split and set off on a solo mission to try and bridge across. Unfortunately with BMC Racing having 2 riders pulling in the front group of 14, O’Connor was not going to get across the gap. Haig showed his good form though and managed to hold off the favourites group all the way to the line. O’Connor came home in the 2nd group on the day, finishing in 24th place.

Ben O’Connor – Rider
The start was quite hard, and even some of the GC men started playing. Tyler, Kristian and Nic got me in great position for when the climbs began and from there the group began to whittle. From there it was essentially just a game of attrition with some wicked gradients. On one of the bumpy descents my chain was thrown off; causing a small solo chase and eventually on the penultimate climb I was detached. I’m pleased however with how I rode, and it gives me confidence that I can perform in the future during these hilly/mountain days.