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Ben Healy has taken his first result of the season after a very strong final effort in the TT at Etoile de Bessèges

Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) has taken his first result of the new season at Etoile de Bessèges after pulling a first class TT ride out of the bag in Alés.

His 20-year-old team mate, Darren Rafferty, also put in a very strong performance in what was his first test against the pros in just his third race with EF Education-EasyPost.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) went into today’s stage as race leader, after winning stage 3, and as he had won the same TT, and the overall, last year he was the hot favourite for a repeat. However, he didn’t have it all his own way.

Kévin Vauquelin, the French 22-year-old riding with Arkéa-B&B Hotels, popped up to take the stage win in the 10.645km TT, which included a 2.8km climb to the line. And as he had started the day in 3rd place overall, and only 23 seconds off Pedersen, that put the Dane under pressure.

However, though Pedersen overshot a corner and was forced to briefly unclip, he put in a great performance to take 2nd in the TT. He was 10 seconds down on man of the day Vauquelin and so won the overall from the Frenchman by just two seconds.

Alberto Bettiol and Ireland’s Healy, both of EF Education-EasyPost, each set the best time as they finished but would slip to 3rd and 4th on the stage, at 14 and 22 seconds respectively. Indeed, their team filled places 2nd to 6th on the stage but could not beat Vauquelin and Pedersen.

The TT result meant, after Pedersen was confirmed as overall victor by two seconds over Vauquelin, Bettiol moved up eight places overall to 3rd, at 32 seconds. And Healy, who began the stage 17th overall at 31 seconds, moved up to 4th in the final standings, at 43 seconds.

Aside from Healy taking his first result of the season today, in his first race, Darren Rafferty (20) also put in a very good performance against the clock.

He posted the fifth fastest time when he finished and though he slipped down the result as the big hitters began to finish, he eventually placed 25th at 57 seconds.

While Rafferty did not trouble the top of the leaderboard, that was a very useful hit out for the Tyrone rider, especially after he had already impressed in the last few days in chasing down the breakaways.

Dillon Corkery also had a strong race for his new St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93 team, ending it today with 76th in the TT at 1:46, though he had nothing to ride for today.

Healy’s next scheduled race is Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta (2.Pro), which begins in 10 days time.

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