Ben Healy takes second pro win in a week as Rory Townsend makes his mark in France
Ben Healy and Rory Townsend capped a great week for the Irish in the professional peloton when they both notched up victories in high-profile races in Europe.
ealy continued the fantastic run of form that saw him take his first professional victory on stage three of Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy on Thursday, when he soloed to victory in the GP Industria & Artigianato one-day race in Italy today.
The 22-year-old EF Education-EasyPost rider soloed clear of the peloton with around 15km of the 200km long one-day race remaining.
Healy countered a move by Italian Diego Ulissi of UAE the last time up the ascent of the 2.7km long Fornello climb, the decisive feature of four laps of a tough finishing circuit in Larciano, and jumped clear to crest the summit with a small gap on the chasers.
The current national time trial champion used his skills against the clock to open up a 10-second advantage on the descent and by the finish in Larciano he had plenty of time to celebrate as he crossed the line for the second professional win of his career – 27 seconds clear of second-placed Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo).
“This is the way I like to do it,” Healy said. “Solo, and then you’re sure you’re going to have it.”
In France, current national road race champion Rory Townsend took some big scalps when he sprinted to victory at the end of La Roue Tourangelle one-day race in Tours
Townsend galloped to a first win of the season for his new Bolton Equities-Black Spoke Racing team, taking victory ahead of in-form Belgian sprinter (Intermache-Circus-Wanty).
“We got to the front quite early, but the wind wasn’t as strong as expected,” Townsend said of the final sprint afterwards. “I knew that Gerben (Thijssen) was very fast, as well as Arvid (De Kleijn). Coming to the last corner, I took the right wheel. Maikel Zijlaard (Tudor) started to take it up and I was in the perfect position. He opened the door and I quickly created a gap. I’m really happy.”
La Roue Tourangelle is the fifth round of the prestigious Coupe de France series and Townsend now moves up to fifth overall in the season-long competition, 35 points behind current leader Laurence Pithie of Groupama FDJ.
At home Daire Feeley and Aoife O’Brien won the opening round of the Cycling Ireland Road National Series, the Donal Crowley Memorial, in Blarney, Co Cork.
Feeley battled off stiff competition in the form of Conn McDunphy in a tight sprint to take the men’s leaders jersey while O’Brien got the better of Jemma Speers and Erin Creighton in a dominant win in the women’s race.
“There were a lot of attacks from the start and groups trying to get away so it was just a case of monitoring what was going on,” said Feeley.
“Myself and Conn rode really hard (to bridge over to the leading group). A bit of attacking from Conn split the group, which allowed the two of us away coming to the line and thankfully I beat him in the sprint. A good day out and it’s nice to win the first round of the National Series. It’s always a hotly contested race due to the calibre of riders that are here.”