Only days after winning a memorable stage in this year’s Giro d’Italia, 24-year-old Ben O’Connor has signed a one-year deal with Ag2r–La Mondiale, set to be known as Ag2r-Citroën in 2021. The young Australian will be making the move from the financially struggling NTT Pro Cycling.
“We had been in contact with Ben O’Connor for two years. His profile as a climber was of great interest to us and he really has the strengths we were looking for,” team manager Vincent Lavenu said. “He is not yet 25 years old and has already confirmed his potential with his stage victory in the Giro as well as his good overall performance. He is certainly a top reinforcement for the team.”
“I am very excited to start with Ag2r-Citroën,” O’Connor said. “It will give me the chance to discover a new culture, new teammates, a different way of racing. I know very little about France, apart from a holiday in the Alps with my parents, but I know that the Ag2r-Citroën is one of the teams in the peloton with the deepest history.”
There will be less focus on stage racing than in the past at the French team, which sees the departure of Romain Bardet and Pierre LaTour, and the arrival of Greg Van Avermaet in 2021. With budget restrictions not allowing them to replace Bardet with another big-name stage racer, O’Connor offers them a solid card to play in the mountains.
O’Connor took second place and then a stage win in the back-half of this year’s Giro, and has shown the resilience that provides promise that he could even become a GC rider in years to come. He is currently in 22nd place in the Italian grand tour.
“I have proven that I can win in the UCI WorldTour, now I want to improve in stage races, be more consistent and take more victories,” O’Connor added. “I know it’s going to be very rewarding and I’ll have the opportunity to improve by riding with such experienced riders. With the arrival of Citroën, I know that the team has great ambitions for the future, and I am proud to be part of it.”