Louis Meintjes. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DINO LLOYD
Louis Meintjes. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DINO LLOYD

Louis Meintjes was Team Dimension Data’s main focus heading into the Giro d’Italia, but it has been Ben O’Connor who has put in the best showing for the team so far.

South African Meintjes, who returned to "Africa’s team" for the 2018 season, was hoping to turn around a disappointing early season in Italy, but a week into the three-week race, he has so far not shaped against the other pink-jersey contenders.

Thursday’s sixth stage went better, though, and he improved his position to 26th — but still four minutes and 34 seconds behind the new leader, Simon Yates of the Mitchelton-Scott team.

Young Australian O’Connor, on the other hand, is sitting just 16 seconds behind the white-jersey wearer in the young rider competition and fancies his chances of taking that jersey from Movistar’s Richard Carapaz.

O’Connor came 12th in Thursday’s stage, which ended with a climb up Mount Etna, and he lies 13th in the general classification (GC), one minute and 39 seconds behind Yates. He said on the team’s website after Thursday’s nail-biting stage: "With about 2.5km to go, I was detached [from the leading bunch], but kept my cool and tried to limit the loss, still hoping to maybe grab the white jersey.

"I just missed it, sadly, but it’s certainly within reach later … and really I’m so pleased to be up there with the best again on one of the most iconic climbs around and in the Giro d’Italia."

Mitchelton-Scott took first and second in the stage, sending Yates leapfrogging past Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin in the GC to take the pink jersey from BMC’s Rohan Dennis. Dumoulin is second in the general classification and Yates’s team-mate, Johan Esteban Rubio Chaves, lies third, after a gutsy ride to victory on Thursday.