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The first two stages of the Tour de l’Avenir – yesterday’s TT and today’s road race – went to the same rider; 20-year-old Søren Wærenskjold from Norway (Photo – Tour de l’Avenir)

Ben Healy has moved up to 7th overall at the Tour de
l’Avenir after he and fellow Irish team rider Liam Curley both made the front
group on today’s stage 1.

While that front group was a large bunch numbering 105
riders, over 70 men lost time today, including some fancied riders who had
placed in the top 10 on yesterday’s 5km prologue TT.

And because Healy
had placed 10th in yesterday’s test, he moved up three places overall to 7th
with seven stages remaining.

Healy, the
national road race champion and U23 TT champion, is now nine seconds down on Søren
Wærenskjold (Norway), the 20-year-old who won both yesterday’s TT and today’s
road stage.

Liam Curley put in a strong ride today to survive in the bunch on a day when 70 riders lost time (Photo: Cassandra Donne Photographies)

The opening road stage today took the riders 161.2km from Charleville-Mézières to Soissons, with two late cat 3 climbs inside the final 25km.

Those ascents, combined with the speed of
the chase after the day’s main breakaway, saw the main field whittled down to
105 riders, of the 174 starters. Healy
and Curley finished in that front group, in 83rd and 91st respectively.

Their Team
Ireland team mates JB Murphy and Kevin McCambridge were in the bunch until very
close to the end of the stage and finished in a group 53 seconds down, in 115th
and 116th. Adam Ward and Dillon Corkery were 137th and 154th, both in a group
at 4:48.

The stage was dominated by a five-man breakaway featuring Sebastian Kolze Changizi (20) of Denmark, Mats Wenzel (18) of Luxembourg, Jordan Santiago Rodriguez (20) of Ecuador and Louis Coqueret (20) of Mixte Hauts-de-France.

Also in that breakaway was Lucas Plapp, the 18-year-old
Australian who has been signed on a three-year deal with Ineos Grenadiers and
who won bronze at the Olympics in the team pursuit.

They went away early in the stage and gained almost five
minutes at one point. While that gap came down, they spent most of the stage
between two and four minutes clear.

However, as the stage wore on and teams like Germany,
Norway and the Netherlands worked on the front of the bunch the gap gradually
came down. The front group also split, with the last men standing only caught
with 5km to go.

That set up a sprint from the bunch, which was won by yesterday’s
prologue TT winner, and yellow jersey, Søren Wærenskjold (Norway), from Luca
Colnaghi (22) of Italy and Axel Laurance (20) of France.

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