Ben Healy faces a huge battle on Sunday’s concluding stage of the Tour de Luxembourg as he and two other riders are almost level in the overall standings.
The EF Education EasyPost rider won Friday’s stage and took over the race leader’s yellow jersey, but he conceded it on Saturday in the 23.9km individual time trial in Pétange.
Time trialling is normally one of Healy’s strongest suits but the fatigue from his long breakaway on Friday meant he finished only 15th in the race against the clock. He was 49 seconds behind the stage winner Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny), slipping from first to third overall.
Swiss rider Marc Hirschi took over at the top of the general classification after placing seventh in the TT, while his American UAE Team Emirates team-mate Brandon McNulty was second in the time trial and is now second overall. He is two seconds behind Hirschi, with Healy one second further back.
Sunday’s stage is a gruelling one with numerous categorised and uncategorised climbs plus bonus sprints. If Healy is on similar form to Friday he should be stronger than Hirschi and McNulty but tactics will also come into play due to the UAE Team Emirates riders being first and second overall.
If Healy manages to reclaim the yellow jersey it would be the 23-year-old’s first-ever stage race victory as a professional rider. Either way he has had a stunning 2023 season, with his five wins including victory on stage eight of the Giro d’Italia.
Meanwhile, Oisín Ferrity was highest-placed of the Irish at the European Championships in the Netherlands, netting 26th in the uphill finish of the junior men’s road race. He was 10 seconds behind the winner Anže Ravbar (Slovenia) in the 111km event, with Seth Dunwoody next-best of the team in 30th.
Two Irish riders were in action in the elite women’s road race, won by young Dutchwoman Mischa Bredewold. Alice Sharpe was involved in a crash on the last lap and finished 53rd, 2:54 back, while Fiona Mangan was 70th.
The championships conclude on Sunday with the elite men’s road race and the junior women’s event.
Rory Townsend and Dillon Corkery go in the former, the Irish entrants reduced by two due to the previous withdrawal of Sam Bennett and Ryan Mullen.
Three Irish juniors will be in action with Lucy Benezet Minns, Áine Doherty and Julia Murphy lining out. Benezet Minns was a fine 10th in Wednesday’s time trial.