Ben Healy wins stage eight of the Giro d'Italia
Our Irish breakaway artist won his first ever grand tour stage with a 50-kilometer solo attack
Ben Healy said he was coming to the Giro to try to win a stage.
Eight stages in, he made good on his word.
To win his first with a 50-kilometer solo attack is the stuff of dreams, and thanks to his daring attack, Ben had all of the time he could have wished for to celebrate his first grand tour stage win. The 22-year-old Irish racer rode away from his breakmates the first time up the Cappuccini climb and put over two minutes into them by the end. His rivals knew his attack was coming but could only watch him time trial away.
The long, lone break has become Ben’s signature move.
“If you can go solo, it is always better,” Ben said after the finish. “I know in big groups like this, group dynamics can play a pretty big role, so I backed myself for a long move. I didn’t want to take any chances today, so I went solo. I knew I had good legs and managed to hold it to the finish. It’s a really good day.”
Ben had stage eight marked in his copy of the Giro’s race book — the Garibaldi — from the moment he knew he was going to Italy to make his grand tour debut this spring. The 207-kilometer stage from Terni to Fossombre seemed made for a break to go to the line. After an uphill start on the Valico della Somma, it rolled for 150 kilometers in the direction of the old city of Fossombre, where it would hit a succession of hilly finishing circuits. The climbs started on the Cappuccini, a short, punchy hill with 10 percent ramps, followed by the Monte delle Cesane, a 7.8-km climb with pitches over 18 percent, before heading back up the Cappuccini a final time, before the downhill run in to the line.
Ben put on his Rapha aero suit this morning determined to make it into the day’s early move. A few kilometers after the start, he and 12 other riders got away. As the GC favorites marked each other behind, Ben’s break soon gained over five minutes. It was clear that they were going to make it to the finish as planned, but no one expected Ben to attack so far from the line.
“That was my best day in the car,” said Ben’s sports director Tejay van Garderen. “I was coming up with a tactic with him, and he was like, you know what, I am going to make up my own. Before the circuit started, I was thinking Barguil was there for GC and he can maybe play with that, maybe get away with him, have him do the majority of the work, because he would move up. But then in the end, Ben just threw all of the tactics away and went on the first climb. As soon as I got behind him, I was just like the road is going to pitch up here; let’s push the pace. Let’s recover here. I was telling him the corners. It was like I was doing a time trial with him. But I can’t take any credit. Today was all Ben.”
This Giro stage win crowns a superb spring for Ben. After winning the GP Industria & Artigianato and a stage at Coppi e Bartali earlier this year, he electrified the cycling world with his gritty performances in the Ardennes. Second at the Brabantse Pijl, second at the Amstel Gold Race, and fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège proved that he is one of the most exciting bike racers of his generation. Now, he has got his first grand tour stage win.
“Ben has really broken out of his shell this year,” Tejay says. “We always knew he was a big talent, but this year he has shown his class. Ben Healy is going to be a name you are going to be listening to for a long time. First grand tour and a stage victory in that fashion, that is the stuff of legend.”
Right now, Ben is just trying to enjoy the moment and take it all in.
“These past couple of months have been an absolute whirlwind and to top it off with this is just insane really,” he says.
We’re only eight stages in, and Ben has still got a few more pages folded in his copy of the Garibaldi.