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Ben Healy says he needs hard days, with tough finishes, if he is to win a stage at the Tour de France and he sees early chances for himself (Photo: Marco Alpozzi-LaPresse)

Ben Healy says he is going into the Tour de France – for his debut ride in the race, in what will be just his second Grand Tour – aiming to win a stage, though he knows he needs particular conditions to pull it off.

Though still aged just 23 years, last year’s Giro d’Italia stage winner sees multiple stages at the Tour that could suit him. And he says that first opportunity comes on stage 1. The 206km course for Saturday’s opener takes the riders from Florence to Rimini and includes seven cat 2 and cat 3 categorised climbs.

The last of those ascents, the Côte de San Marino, is 7.1km, averaging 4.5 per cent gradient with maximum inclines of 6.1 per cent. That is followed by a 9.5km descent and then a gradually downhill-flat section for the final 17km.

Healy believes that stage 1 course is one that can suit him, though he also sees other chances a little later in the race, adding lining out in the Tour is “a pretty big milestone” for him in his third year as a World Tour pro. He also believes he has prepared very well for the challenge in recent weeks.

“The Tour is the biggest race there is and I am really excited for it,” he said just four days out from the Grand Départ. “The first step is making it to the World Tour and the next is going to a Tour.

“I’d love to try and win a stage. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what I want to go and try to do. I need a pretty hard day out with a hard finish.

“Stage one looks really good for me, but there are a few towards the end of the second week as well. Since the Ardennes, I’ve knuckled down and done the altitude camps and some good races. The preparation has gone well for me.

“I’m excited that we’re going to get to go for our own opportunities. There will be days when I’m really suffering. I will just go all-in on the days when I’ve got to go all-in and save my legs on the others, when our other guys will be going for it.”

Healy is going into the second Grand Tour of his career after a spring campaign that did not quite go his way. His decision to aim everything towards the Ardennes Classics did not bring the results he had hoped for, especially after 4th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.UWT) last year, 3nd in Amstel Gold Race (1.UWT) and 2nd in De Brabantse Pijl (1.Pro).

However, more recently he put in a very aggressive ride at Tour de Slovenia, where he was clearly one of the very strongest in the race. And that form resulted in him winning the final stage; a big confidence boost in his last outing before the Tour.

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