Ben Healy second at the Amstel Gold Race
The Irish rider had a breakout ride at the Dutch classic
Last Sunday, Ben Healy went to Roubaix to ‘see a Monument from the other side of the fences’ and spent the day handing out water bottles to his teammates.
Today, the 22-year-old Irish rider proved he is one of the best young bike racers on the planet with his second-place finish at the Amstel Gold Race.
Ben had already won the GP Industria & Artigianato and a stage of Coppi e Bartali this season. He was second Wednesday at Brabantse Pijl. But Amstel is a race of a different caliber. The 253.6-kilometer classic is one of the most prestigious races in cycling. Raced across the short, steep hills of Zuid-Limburg, it is the most famous race in the cycling-mad Netherlands. Founded in 1966, the Gold Race is the first of the Ardennes classics, a triptych of races in the forested hills of the low countries. Every year, the best climbers in the world show up to go toe to toe in front of tens of thousands of fans.
And this year, Ben was second at Amstel. The only rider who could beat him was former Tour de France champ Tadej Pogacar.
“I was second, only to the best rider in the world at the moment, so it was a pretty good day, I think,” Ben says. “His team rode pretty hard straight from the gun. They didn’t give the break any leash, so honestly it was just trying to stay in the first 30 or 40 guys for the whole day. It was just a whittling process. And then with about 100 kilometers to go, it pressed on over a climb, and the elastic which had been going all day snapped, and I went with the group. I played the card and sat on the back, because we had Neilson behind. As we started racing, guys got dropped, and it turned out I was one of the strongest.”
Ben’s sports directors were very impressed with Ben’s performance. Watching the way he rode the finale from the car, clawing his way back when Pogacar attacked on the Eyserboserweg and then dropping Tom Pidcock on the Geulhemmerweg, they had to remind themselves that Ben is only in his second season as a professional.
“It was a breakthrough on the big scene—the very big scene,” Matti Breschel says. “He was up against really good riders and finishing it off with a podium is something he can be proud of.”
Tom Southam is very optimistic about Ben’s development.
“Ben started his season with a pretty low level program,” says Tom Southam. “Moving up, he stepped up, level after level. I think the level that he is at now is really extremely high and gives us a lot of hope for the next two months.”
In the final kilometers of today’s race, Ben was just trying to soak it all in.
“I got a bit excited when I dropped Pidcock and the gap was coming back down to Pog, but he clearly had something left in the legs as well. It was a real nice feeling and little bit surreal. Second in the Amstel Gold race. Not too bad eh!”
Not too bad at all, Ben! Congratulations!