Tour of Poland #7: O’Connor rides to top 20 overall

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Wout Poels (Team Sky) won the final stage of the Tour of Poland with Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) taking 2nd and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) placing 3rd. Dylan Teuns did enough to win the Tour of Poland overall from Majka by just 2 seconds.

With only 43 seconds separating the first 12 riders before the start of today’s final stage at the Tour of Poland, it was always going to be one for the GC contenders. With no less than 8 steep climbs on the menu squeezed into a short distance of 134km, there was fireworks from start to finish today. Our African Team’s goal was to look after young Ben O’Connor, hoping he could move up the overall standings.

The defining moment of the race came in the last 25km when we reached the final 3 climbs of the race. The peloton was just 40-riders strong and O’Connor was part of this selection. The attacks then came from the favourites which resulted in the early break of 14 riders being caught. On the penultimate climb the race defining split took place as 11 riders went clear. O’Connor was in the 2nd group with a number of other pre stage favourites, like Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).

With Poels, Majka and Teuns having team members working in the front, O’Connors group was not going to come back before the final climb. As the cat and mouse game unraveled, the final was eventually decided  with the GC contenders sprinting for the line together. Poels had the most left in the tank to win the kick to the line, Teuns did enough to secure the overall though. O’Connor put in another brave ride to finish 21st on the stage, which saw him move up one spot in the overall standings to finish in 20th position.

Ben O’Connor – Rider
Today was just gnarly. The start blew the race apart. It settled down into a hard tempo for the next 50km of the stage. Nic, Youcef and Natnael really helped with getting bidons and food for me which saved what energy I had left. With about 45km to go the race blew to pieces on those crazy steep gradients. I hung on for as long as I could, and on the penultimate categorised climb I really suffered. I managed to hold onto the second group however up to the finish line. Once again I’m really pleased with how I performed. To finish in the top 20 GC at a World Tour event whilst I am still so young is I think, a great sign for the progression I am aiming for.