Ben O’Connor stated forward of the Critérium du Dauphiné that it was time for him to podium in a WorldTour stage race. Mission achieved.
The Australian, who positioned fourth general eventually yr’s Tour de France, continued his rise within the colors of AG2R Citroën with every week of racing that may elevate his ambitions a notch for this yr’s Tour.
As on Saturday, O’Connor couldn’t reside with the Jumbo-Visma duo of Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard on the ultimate climb to Plateau de Solaison on Sunday’s closing stage. Nonetheless, as on Saturday, he was the better of the remainder.
As he stood on the rostrum, a smile broke out throughout his face.
“I will be tremendous pleased with this,” he stated. “Jonas was second within the Tour final yr, Primož has received the Vuelta 3 times and just about each different stage race. It simply means you’re there preventing with one of the best guys, so I will be actually proud as we speak.”
O’Connor was the final man standing as Jumbo-Visma ripped up the GC discipline on the 11.3km, 9% closing climb. Steven Kruijswijk put in a monster flip, and out of the blue O’Connor was the one rider on the head of the race who wasn’t carrying yellow and black.
Quickly after, Vingegaard issued a stinging acceleration and O’Connor needed to relent. Nonetheless, he didn’t fall again. The 2 Jumbo riders rode away collectively however he saved them in his sights for the ultimate 5km of the climb, crossing the road simply 15 seconds down, and virtually 40 seconds up on the subsequent finisher.
“I might have cherished to have been capable of be with Jonas and Primož, however it was too explosive for me,” O’Connor defined.
“I attempted to see if I may get again, however we simply stayed the identical distance. I assumed I would get again to them, I nonetheless had legs, by no means exploded, I simply couldn’t go together with the primary acceleration.”
However, the Dauphiné confirms that O’Connor is continuous on his upward trajectory and maybe eventually discovering some consistency in his profession. He was on the cusp of a breakthrough on the 2018 Giro d’Italia however has had a rocky time ever since and solely joined AG2R final season after discovering himself in need of contract provides.
After clinching that dream-like fourth place on the Tour, he has put collectively a string of outcomes this season that reads: seventh at Rita del Sol, sixth at Volta a Catalunya, fifth at Tour de Romandie, third at Dauphiné.
“It’s sort of clear, I’m transferring rather well,” O’Connor stated.
“All of the work we’ve accomplished as a workforce has paid off. We’re actually not far-off from preventing with really the easiest on the planet, and that’s one thing we will be pleased with.
“I simply have to get to the Tour now, not get too drained beforehand, and hopefully not having too many issues within the Tour.”