Irish rider Ben Healy took the biggest win of his career today when he won the fifth stage of the Tour de l’Avenir (2.Ncup).
The 18 year-old representing the Centre Mondial du Cyclisme team was a member of the day’s break on the 158.9-kilometre stage from Espalion to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil which included four categorised climbs. He went clear with Morten Hulgaard (Denmark), Robin Froidevaux (Switzerland), and Matteo Jorgenson (United States) with about 115 kilometres remaining.
Jorgenson became virtual yellow jersey as the quartet gained a maximum lead of four minutes over the peloton. Along the way, Healy led over two of the categorised climbs. Froidevaux was the first to struggle and he was dropped from the lead group inside the final fifteen kilometres.
With less than four kilometres to go, Healy attacked and although he never gained a big lead over the chasers, he was able to hang on for the win from Hulgaard and Jorgenson.
In the absence of an Irish national team, Healy, who is one of the youngest riders in the race, was selected to ride the prestigious race for the Centre Mondial du Cyclisme and he is joined on the team by fellow Irish U23 rider Daragh O’Mahony.
It’s a remarkable result for a rider racing his first season as a senior and follows on from some other impressive results including 11th at Gent-Wevelgem/Kattekoers-Ieper (1.Ncup) and 2nd place at the U23 Irish National Individual Time Trial Championships behind his Team Wiggins Le Col team mate Michael O’Loughlin.
The result sees Healy jump 30 places on GC to 45th overall and he has also moved up to 3rd in the mountains classification and 4th place in the points classification. Darragh O’Mahony sits in 131st place overall.
The race continues tomorrow with a 124-kilometre stage from Saint-Julien-Chapteuil to Privas. France’s Simon Guglielmi retains the overall lead going into the stage.