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After what has been nothing short of an outstanding start to the 2018 season, WestCycle had a quick chat with West Australian rising star in the professional ranks, Ben O’Connor.

Ben was a big supporter of The Ring Summer Criterium Series through the late stages of 2017 while he was in Perth, then went on to race well in the Tour Down Under and Cadels Race before falling unwell to illness that set him back a few paces.

But with his structured training programme, plenty of rest and firm direction, this weekend Ben faced the opportunity of a lifetime, or as he puts it – “A Dream come true” when he started the Giro d ‘Italia 9.7km first stage ITT in Jerusalem.

Wind back the clock less than three weeks and our very own Ben O’Connor was mixing it with the pinnacle of world cycling, in a break on stage three of the Tour of the Alps with the likes of Frenchman Thibant Pinot, plus Giro favourites, Fabio Aru, George Bennett and Chris Froome.

Not only was O’Connor keeping this Elite company, in a last-ditch attack, he was able to gap himself from this break away to go on and win the stage, propelling him into the spotlight of the sport he so loves on the eve of his Grand Tour debut.

Ben was kind enough to answer some questions on the eve of the Giro.

WestCycleHow does it feel on the eve of your biggest race to date?

Ben O’ConnorTo be part of the Giro d’Italia is excitement on a whole new level. The word “nervous” I don’t think has even sprung up in my mind! It is a dream come true to race a grand tour and to start with the one I dreamt of racing the most, it is a real privilege.

WC – How have you prepared for this huge event?

BOPreparation is everything. It’s all the work at home, the dedication to the plan and then to be consistent in doing so. I had a very good program with Volta Catalunya and Tour of Alps in my lead-up with plenty of time to recover and then build on what you felt you had missing from the race.  You can do 22-25hrs per week and nail the efforts and all is well, but you also need to live and enjoy what’s around you! 

WC – What will your role be within the team?

BOThe teams aim has always been to get Louis (Louis Meintjes) into at least the top 10 here. After Etna, I would like to try and see if I could take the young rider jersey for a few days – but following that it’s essentially to try and go on the attack in the mountain stages to force pressure or try for a surprise win.

WCWhat are you most looking forward too?

BOI look forward to most the mountain finishes (and currently the first being Etna) with grandparents and their children lining the roads, thousands of fans screaming with flags waving… amazing!

WCDo you have any quotes for your fans back in WA?

BO – If I can go for a non sport related ones, “all we need to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” or “Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised”….. or just live life to its fullest extent!

We wish Ben all the best over the next three weeks and look forward to bringing you regular updates as the Giro unfolds.

Image credit: Cycliq