Ben O'Connor surprises in La Molina to take the lead of the Volta

March 23 rd 2022 - 20:42

 (La Molina, 23-03-2022) - Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) took the win on the third stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022 after surprising the favourites group with a solo attack on the final climb of La Molina. The Aussie rider, a great protagonist of last year's Tour de France, reached the finish line with a six-second gap over the rest of the favorites, and he is now holding the leadership of the general classification.   

The third stage of the Volta a Catalunya made its way into the mountains in a day that started from Perpinyà, a city that already hosted the arrival of the second stage, and reached La Molina, a Pyrenean finish that is already a classic of the Volta. In between, a 161 kilometers route that featured another two first category mountain passes, Mont-Louis and the Collada de Tosses climbs.

The group rode at high pace in the first kilometers of the stage when chasing the breakaway, that was not formed until the 20th kilometer of the stage. Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) and Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) managed to open an up-to-8-minutes gap with the peloton. That is when Movistar Team took the reins of the bunch with more than 100 kilometers to go and worked to toughen the race from the first climb of the day. T

he four escapees got all the attention throughout practically the whole day, crowning at the front the first two climbs of the stage. Ander Okamika was the first to pass Mont-Louis and the Collada de Tosses and the 20 points he scored helped him to take the lead in the mountains classification. In addition, the escapees have also passed first through the sprints of Llívia and Puigcerdà. During the course of the stage, Fausto Masnada (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), stage winner Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma) had to drop out. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), five-time stage winner at the Volta a Catalunya, also abandoned the race. 

The high pace of the peloton, led by different teams, helped them to close the gap with the breakaway at the start of La Molina final climb, 10 kilometers away from the finish. Shortly after, with more than 8 kilometers to go, Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) launched an attack that no one could follow, leaving him as the solo leader of the stage. Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates), Esteban Chaves and Hugh Carthy (EF Education Easypost) or Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) also tried to attack , but were unable to open a gap with the group of favorites.

As the race approached the finish line, on the last downhill section, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) opened a small margin, but was unable to reach Ben O'Connor's wheel and was caught again by the group of favorites. In a tight finish, Australian Ben O'Connor took the stage victory with a six-second margin over a group of favorites led by Juan Ayuso and Nairo Quintana (Team Arkéa Samsic). With the stage win, the AG2R Citroën Team rider also moved into the overall lead. Simon Yates, one of the top favorites, has been the most damaged at the finish of La Molina and has lost more than ten minutes with the winner.

This Thursday, it's time for stage 4, in what's going to be the second consecutive mountain finish at the VOlta. Starting from La Seu d'Urgell, the stage will finish in Boí Taüll, 20 years after the race arrived at this location for the last time, with Aitor Garmendia as the winner in an uphill TT.

Follow us

Get exclusive information about Volta Catalunya