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Ben Healy on the front of the breakaway on stage 11 of the Tour de France, with the Irish rider still sounding confident for the rest of the race (Photo: Billy Ceusters)

Ben Healy and his EF Education-EasyPost team mate, Richard Carapaz, were full of aggression on Wednesday’s stage 11 at the Tour de France, proving active from the start and making the breakaway when it finally went clear after two hours of racing.

However, though the group initially numbered six, and then swelled to 10, before its advantage shot out towards three minutes, the UAE Team Emirates squad of race leader Tadej Pogačar was in no mood to let them ride away.

Pogačar clearly wanted to try something and eventually attacked with just over 30km to go, towards the top of the penultimate climb, the Col de Pertus. Ireland’s Healy had alreay pressed on solo from the breakaway when it became clear its gap was tumbling.

In the end, Healy fell back into a chasing group as the strongest general classification riders went forward, with Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) ultimately winning the stage in a two-up sprint from Pogačar. Healy ended the day by the far the best of the breakaway men – in 17th – after being away for 107km and he sounded a confident note at the finish.

“We raced our race and we did what we said we wanted to do in the morning,” he said of a stage in which he stuck to his plan of getting up the road, even though Pogačar had other ideas for the 211km stage into Le Lioran.

“You can’t control what the peloton does sometimes. We never gave up. UAE were very eager to show what they could do today,” Healy adde.

“There are more days to come. If I have the legs I had today for the rest of the Tour, then I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity.”

Charly Wegelius, EF Education-EasyPost sports director, said Healy, Carapaz and the others in the team “rode the dream stage”, adding he was especially happy with the form the Irish rider had shown.

“I’m pretty confident in saying that if the breakaway was allowed to go, Ben would or could have won the stage. The race circumstances were what they were. The breakaway took a long time to go,” he said.

“They had a short period of time on easier roads, in which they kept the break close and basically went and caught them, because they wanted to win the stage and they wanted to take time bonuses and so on. We can’t do anything about that, but the riders rode literally the dream stage.

“It was a stage-winning performance by them, even though it doesn’t show on the results sheet. It’s the Tour. There are other teams and other circumstances, but the riders are literally doing every single thing that we ask them to do on the highest possible level and one of these days it’ll click for sure.”

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