EF Education–NIPPO is proud to announce two new partners joining us in the 2021 season:…
Ireland’s Ben Healy is set to make his WorldTour debut with EF Education-NIPPO for the 2022 season.
With so many races cancelled, postponed, and reconfigured due to the pandemic over the last two years, Healy is the first to say he hasn’t been able to race as much as he would prefer. Nonetheless, he has remained consistent with training and his palmarès reflect this with wins at the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia (the Baby Giro), the Ronde de l’Isard, and both the Irish road and U23 time trial championships, in addition to a slew of top ten stage and overall results, all since the pandemic began.
While his results are certainly impressive, the 21-year-old rider knew it would be a massive leap to move up to the WorldTour, which is why he felt EF Education-NIPPO was the right team to guide him through this transition.
“When I started to talk with the team, it was clear the team had a plan for me,” Healy explains. “That meant so much to me. It wasn’t just, ‘Yeah, he’s got a few decent results, might as well just sign him.’ There was thought behind where I’d fit into the team.”
EF Education-NIPPO CEO Jonathan Vaughters explains why Healy will be such an asset to the team. “His skill set is he knows how to get in breaks that make it to the line and he knows how to win out of those breaks once he’s in them. There aren’t that many guys that have that skill set. That’s the skill that Ben’s shown over and over again in the U23 races.”
While Healy is keen to advance his cycling career, he was drawn to EFin part because of the team’s deep sense of camaraderie. “I don’t want to be going to a team just doing my job. I don’t want to be riding around for a paycheck. I want to be a part of a team. I’d like to go and be on the bus and have a laugh with everyone. I see this within the team and that’s something that really appealed to me.”
Healy has forged his own route to get to where he is today. He has never worked closely with his national cycling body or ridden for any of the bigger U23 teams. “I feel like a lot of the time I’m a bit of an underdog going into a race. That’s just given me the hunger to carry on with it.”
Racing the Tour de l’Avenir in 2019 is the perfect example. “I didn’t even get a team, I managed to scrape my way onto the UCI mondial team and I was going there for experience. I managed to pull off a stage win. That feeling of ‘I’m really here to be competitive’ was such a nice feeling and having the title of being the youngest person ever to win a stage was pretty cool as well.”
Vaughters took notice of Healy’s competitive nature, saying, “I do see him in the light of a guy who can win races. That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be periods where he has to work for other people. He has a good nose for how to win a race. That’s why we’re hiring him.”
Though Healy considers himself an all-arounder, many of his results have come from the medium mountains. “The 15 to 30 minute climbs, when it’s just a hard day out, I normally do pretty well when it’s really grim like that.”
Healy looks forward to getting the 2022 season underway. “Stepping up to this new level will be a new challenge and a new way to race. I just want to learn everything and try to pick up as much as I can from these big names that I’ll be teammates with. I’m very excited for it. And the equipment and the kit aren’t too bad either!”
We like your enthusiasm, Ben, and we think you’ll look great in pink.