Ben Healy has stormed to a dominant victory at the Senior Men's National Championships in Limerick – taking the national champion's jersey off Sam Bennett in the process.
Healy took charge of the race from almost the first pedal stroke, breaking loose from a pack of the country’s best riders to lead from the front for the duration of the 155km course.
Fresh from his Under-23 victory in Thursday’s time trial, Healy rode a faultless race in blazing sunshine over the rolling terrain of the Knockaderry course.
He set off in a two-man break on the first lap with Darnell Moore and set a blistering pace over the course and establishing an ever-increasing lead over the pursuing peloton.
The difficult chase saw multiple pursuing groups form and then break apart as the early pace demolished many riders' early efforts.
As the finish neared, Healy put further pressure on the climb to Knockaderry, dropping his breakaway companion.
It was then time for Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb) to attempt a last-gasp effort to bridge across, roaring through the start finish straight on the penultimate lap.
His efforts were not enough though and the in-form Healy, at just 20-years-old, showed sublime composure and secured the victory, raising his hands in triumph as Roche finished second at 2’35’ and Darragh O’Mahony of Swift Carbon taking the bronze.
The Under-23 title also saw Healy crowned as champion finishing almost five minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
"I went away on the first lap and I was really just banking on them sitting up, it never really did but I held a minute for most of the race and it wasn’t until the last laps that I was able to pull out a bit more," Healy said.
"I was riding very hard, there were personal best numbers for me today. It has been a fantastic few days, I came here wanting to do well and I have achieved everything I could have hoped for.
"This is what every rider wants. Everyone wants to wear the Irish Champion jersey for the year and to get the elite one as an Under-23 is very special."
Earlier in the Junior Men’s race, Ronan O’Connor of Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club took a solo victory.