Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) won a lumpy stage 3 of the Étoile de Bessèges ahead of Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) and Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team).
With the bonus seconds on offer and margin across the line, Thomas assumed the overall race lead from Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
Cofidis also won the previous day’s stage with Bryan Coquard beating Pedersen in the uphill sprint.
Thomas is the 2021 current points race world champion, and he used his track racing abilities en route to the stage win.
Almost as soon as the flag was dropped, racing heated up, with overnight leader Pedersen trying to get away in a group with American Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premier Tech), and several others.
The group managed as much as a four-minute gap before the chasers started to bring them back.
As the race proceeded into the final climb, the ascent to Trélis, Sheffield went on the offensive, but his move was neutralized.
The accelerations took a toll on Pedersen and he missed a crucial split that would ultimately cost him the overall lead.
Thomas launched an attack and escaped in the final 3km, managing to distance Bettiol and Johannessen and held them all the way to the line.
The EF Education-EasyPost rider Bettiol finished in fifth and fourth places on the two previous stages and sits in second overall after three stages – just seven seconds back of stage-winner and race leader Thomas.
2022 Étoile de Bessèges Stage 3 Results
- Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), 3:38:31
- Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), at :09
- Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), at s.t.
- Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), at: 15
- Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), at: 15
- Edvald Boasson-Hagen (TotalEnergies), at: s.t.
- Hugo Hofstetter (Team Arkéa-Samsic + 15
- Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën Team), at: s.t.
- Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), at: s.t.15
- Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), at: s.t.
2022 Étoile de Bessèges General Classification
- Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), 10:53:05
- Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), at :07
- Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), at :15