Youngest competitor Ben Healy takes sixth in European time trial championships

Kelly Murphy finishes 15th in women’s time trial

Ben Healy put in his best-ever performance against the clock on Wednesday, finishing a superb sixth in the European time trial championships on Wednesday. The national champion was the early leader and while five others out of the 35-man field ultimately went quicker, his performance is hugely encouraging for the future.

“It was super nice,” Healy said, referring to the course. “I set out with a pretty hard pace to try to medal today. I didn’t quite have the legs for that, but I held on until the end and still put in a really good performance and got a really nice result. So I’m super happy.”

Healy finished 56 seconds behind the winner, Stefan Bissegger. A second Swiss rider Stefan Küng took silver, one second further back, with world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Italy) nine seconds adrift in third. Healy was 56 seconds behind Bissegger and 47 seconds off a place the podium.

He is still just 21 years of age and indeed was the youngest rider in the field. With those ahead of him at least 23, his performance points to a bright future.


Healy confirmed he had hoped for a high finish. “I kind of had that idea in my head. After my national championships ride we ran the numbers and it was a pretty good performance,” he explained. “I came here with medals in mind, potentially. That is what I was gunning for today and to come away with sixth still is a really respectable performance. I am super happy.”

He is also known for his attacking performances in road races. He has been riding aggressively this year in what is his first season at the WorldTour level, racing with the EF Education-EasyPost squad, and previously took big wins in under 23 road races.

Healy won a stage of the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir in 2019, a stage of the Ronde de l’Isard the following season and another one in last year’s Giro Ciclistico d’Italia.

Individual races against the clock have long been a strength too, and he will take additional motivation from what he achieved on Wednesday.

“I’ve always enjoyed a time trial and I always like to think I’ve been quite competitive,” he said. “But this for sure is my best result in a TT and I will be coming back to these events in the future hoping to be on that top step.”

Meanwhile, national women’s TT champion Kelly Murphy and last year’s nationals gold medallist Joanna Patterson had very respectable performances against more experienced riders in the women’s time trial. Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) won ahead of Dutchwomen Ellen van Dijk and Riejanne Markus, with Murphy 2 minutes 26 seconds back in 15th place.

Patterson was seven seconds further back in 17th.

Murphy was primarily focusing on the earlier track racing at the championships, being part of the team pursuit squad which finished sixth in that event. She also placed sixth in the individual pursuit, going over a second faster than her own national record.

“I am really content,” she said of Wednesday’s time trial. “Me and Jo predicted for ourselves that the race today was going to be between 33 and 34 minutes, and the pair of us were right smack bang in the middle. So we performed at that upper limit as we expected to.

“It is always a hard day, Europe is a very hard Continent to race against and the best girls in the world are here. Some girls are just so strong. And nobody enters the time trial unless they think they have got what it takes. Everyone things they are a big dog, so to finish 15th, I think we were holding our own.”

Patterson was representing Ireland for the first time internationally, and said it meant a lot to her.

“It is a big honour for me to represent Ireland. I have done it before in athletics and never thought I would do it again. It is a big honour for me and something I want to build on in the future.”

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling