Ben Healy impresses with victory in Slovenia ahead of his Tour de France debut

Irish road race champion will return home to defend his title before heading to France

Ireland's Ben Healy was victorious on the final stage of the Tour of Slovenia. Photograph: Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

Ben Healy showed strong form in advance of his Tour de France debut later this month, clocking up a superb solo victory on the final stage of the Tour of Slovenia on Sunday.

The Irish road race champion was one of the most aggressive throughout the five-day stage race, and that attacking spirit finally paid off on the concluding hilly leg to Novo Mesto.

He went clear in a chase group with 46km remaining, caught and passed the riders who had been in the day’s early breakaway and forged ahead in the closing stages with some of the other big race contenders.

Healy did most of the driving on the front and then made a big move with 3km to go, breaking the resolve of those who had been with him.


They were caught by a large group but the 23-year-old was too strong, fending off the chasers and crossing the line six seconds clear of that bunch.

“I came here to really test myself on the GC,” he said, referring to the general classification. “I blew up a little bit yesterday so for sure I am disappointed there, but to take a stage win the end makes up for it.

“After losing out in the GC yesterday, I was here to take revenge today. I know how I can win, I know how I like to win and it was always the plan to go full gas on that first climb and try to catch them by surprise.”

While he was clearly the strongest rider on the concluding stage and was marked by many others as a result, his persistence paid off.

“In the end I managed to go solo. Then they caught me on the last climb of the day, but the GC guys were playing silly buggers and I managed to get a gap and hold it to the line.”

Healy had started the day ninth overall and improved to seventh, 44 seconds off the race winner Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe). Team-mate Archie Ryan had ridden for him during the week and finished strongly, the neo pro netting ninth on the stage.

Both riders are expected to return to Ireland for the upcoming national road championships, with Healy defending his title He is expected to start his first Tour de France on Saturday week, where he will bid to add to the Giro d’Italia stage win he took last season.

Meanwhile, Leo Doyle took a superb stage win in the 2.2-ranked Tour de Kurpie in Poland on Sunday, soloing in 15 seconds clear of the main bunch on the final stage.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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