O’Connor climbs to victory in stage 3 of Volta a Catalunya

Ben O’Connor made it an Australian treble at the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday when he soared to victory on the third stage in the Pyrenees.

Victory of the AG2R climber follows wins for Australians on stage 1 with Michael Matthews and stage 2, won by sprinter Kaden Groves.

The third stage was a 161km mountain run from the French coastal city of Perpignan to the Pyrenean ski resort of La Molina with the second climb hitting 1800m altitude.

O’Connor broke for victory alone on the final climb and just about hung on as a clutch of pretenders to the title reeled him to within six seconds. Juan Ayuso of the UAE Team Emirates team came second with Nairo Quintana third.

O’Connor holds the overall lead going into stage four with a 10sec edge on Ayuso and 12sec over Quintana.

“There was a strong headwind on the final climb but O’Connor really timed it well,” Ayuso said. “We came close to catching him but my legs are good and we’ll have another shot tomorrow,” he said.

Simon Yates crashed and said his overall title effort, and even the possibility of a stage win, were now compromised.

Thursday’s fourth stage is also a mountain run to the Boi Taull ski station with three category 1 climbs on the agenda.


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