Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) took victory on a thrilling stage 3 of the Tour of the Alps, stealing away from an 11-rider group of overall favourites in the flat final eight kilometres of a short mountain stage from Ora to Merano.
The 22-year-old Australian attacked with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) on the first-category Passo della Mendola, and then when other big names came back up and over the third-category Passo Padale, he made a solo bid for the second victory of his career.
Pinot crossed the line in second place, five seconds down, followed by Pozzovivo in third. Also part of that group were overall contenders Chris Froome (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), though the Colombian – bizarrely the main chaser of O’Connor when he had teammate Luis Leon Sanchez for support – lost around 10 seconds in the final kilometre.
The key absentee was Ivan Sosa (Androni Giacattoli), who crashed on the descent of the Palade and rolled home several minutes down, surrendering his overall lead. The purple jersey is now on the shoulders of Pinot, who leads the race by 15 seconds from Pozzovivo, with Lopez and Froome poised a further second back.
“Before the race started I thought maybe if I had good legs I could try something,” said O’Connor. “It was super aggressive today, but I usually do better later in tours. It’s good to be able to race with the best, and to pull that off is surreal.
“I’ve gradually built the form really well. In Catalunya I was all right, then to come here and be another step further, is super, super pleasing. I just want to be the best rider I can be.”
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com