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Ben O’Connor continued the Australian run of stage winners at the Volta a Catalunya, victorious atop La Molina following on from Michael Matthews’ opening day uphill sprint win and Kaden Groves conquering the day two bunch gallop to the line.
The Ag2r Citroën climber made his solo move 8km from the line up the final climb and kept UAE Team Emirates’ Juan Ayuso at bay, the Spaniard’s chase giving him second place just ahead of Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).
Finishing six seconds clear, O’Connor now holds a 10-second GC advantage over Ayuso with four stages remaining, the overall classification all still to play for with the main contenders all within half a minute of the Australian’s lead.
“It’s been hard the last month because I got very sick so to come out here and win again is amazing,” the 26-year-old said of his first win since his stage victory at the 2021 Tour de France. “Every year I set myself a goal to win and it’s nice to get it done early in the year.
“I’ve been very confident this week because I know that my form is there. I didn’t expect to be solo. I was hoping some guys would come with me, but in the end I just had to go myself. I was lucky to hang on.”