Ben Healy races into the climber’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia
The Irishman wants to hold onto the maglia azzurra all the way to Rome
Ben Healy is getting good at opening bottles of Prosecco.
After winning stage eight of the Giro with a 50-kilometer solo attack and finishing second on stage 15, Ben went on the offensive again today and took over the lead of the King of the Mountains competition. Ben pulled on the blue climbers’ jersey at the top of Monte Bodone and sprayed a bottle of bubbly all over the crowd. He wants to keep the maglia azzurra all the way to Rome, where this Giro will end five days from now.
He is not sure if he can do it, but when Ben senses a chance, he goes all in.
He rolled out from Sabbo Chiese this morning determined to go for another stage win and rode flat out to make it into the break. After close to an hour of furious racing along the shores of Lake Garda, he went with the decisive move. Ben broke clear with sixteen other riders, but soon had to change tack.
“I wanted to go for the stage win, but when we got in that break and there were a few GC guys in there, the peloton never really let the leash go, so I didn’t see an opportunity to go for the stage win,” Ben says. “That’s when I switched my focus and tried to race for the points. There were quite a few out there today, so I decided to try to get the jersey.”
Ben had started the day fourth in the KOM standings with 108 points compared to the leader’s 144. There were 40 to be won at the top of the first climb, the first-category Passo Santa Barbara. Ben matched all attacks on its slopes and then went clear over the summit to take over the lead. He consolidated his advantage over the Passo Bordala, Matassone, and Serrada, earning 16 more points, before sitting up on the final ascent to save his legs while the GC contenders raced past.
Ben now leads the maglia azzurra competition by 20 points.
“I am pretty happy,” he says. “It was nice to first be able to get in the break and then get the points and end the day in the shirt. I’ve just got to try to defend it now. The body is definitely tired. My legs are sore. But it was a really big day and I think everybody is feeling it now.”
Tomorrow’s stage 17 from Pergine Valsugana to Caorle is one for the sprinters. Then, there are two massive mountain stages and an uphill time trial in the Dolomites left to decide the climbers’ competition.
“Tomorrow shouldn’t be too hard, so I will try to get a bit of rest,” Ben says. “And then we have got a few more big mountain days to try to defend this jersey.”
Blue looks good on you, Ben!