Ben O'Connor anticipates Giro d'Italia's stage 20: "It must be one of the hardest ones you can do in cycling"

Ben O'Connor has experienced ups and downs during this Giro d'Italia but he remains in fourth position. He says that he is content with this position but still hopes for good days in the final weekend of the race and a podium... He specially anticipates the 20th stage which goes up to Monte Grappa twice.

“I just don’t think it was my best day. I think it was far from it. So hopefully by Saturday, I’ll be back onto how I felt for the first two weeks, which was the same as G and Dani," O'Connor said in The Cycling Podcast regarding stage 17 where he shed 41 seconds to Geraint Thomas and Daniel Martínez. "I wouldn’t say yesterday (stage 17, ed.) was explosive, because it was super hard all day, and you were kind of on the pedals all day, along with the tricky nature of the course with wet roads almost the whole day. I don’t think the change in course [on stage 16] really changed much, it was how things should have been in the end."

Into the 19th stage of the race, which finishes in Sappada and isn't expected to have much GC action, the Australian is 1:43 minutes behind third place Geraint Thomas. However, he has Antonio Tiberi and Thymen Arensman within 1:30 minutes of his fourth place and is aware that his position is at risk.

“I feel like I’m sitting where I deserve to be to be honest,” he said. “Fourth is fair because Dani has been better and G has been more consistent. I’d be happy with [fourth], but I’d prefer third. Or second..." Nevertheless, after winning the Vuelta a Murcia, finishing second at the UAE Tour and Tour of the Alps; and fifth at Tirreno-Adriatico; a strong GC performance at the Giro is the continuation of what is perhaps his best season to date as a professional.

Could it still get better though? His last mountain stage was not good, but already on the first week he came back from a bad day and rode with the best afterwards. This could still happen, and the final mountain stage is the kind of day where race-changing gaps can be created.

There’s always more to be wanting, and I think Saturday will be really interesting with Monte Grappa because it’s such a hard climb," he says. The stage includes two ascents of the 18-kilometer climb that averages over 8%. "It must be one of the hardest ones you can do in cycling to be honest, so I don’t think it’s going to be 20-second gaps at the end."

Profile of 2024 Giro d'Italia stage 20
Profile of 2024 Giro d'Italia stage 20

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