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Étoile de Bessèges: Filippo Ganna takes final stage time trial, Tim Wellens secures overall

Time trial champion blitzes short final stage to make it two wins in two days.

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) made it two from two with victory on the final stage time trial of Étoile de Bessèges on Sunday.

The Italian world time trial champion blitzed the short 11-kilometer test to win by 10 seconds and take his second consecutive win having scored a breakaway victory Saturday.

Benjamin Thomas (Groupama FDJ) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) filled out the stage podium after the city center TT in Alès.

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) posted a solid ride to defend his overnight lead and secure the GC overall.

Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation) had held second and third in the classification after stage 4 Saturday only to see strong rides from Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) and Nils Politt (Bora Hansgrohe) bump them off the podium. Kwiatkowski took second overall after securing sixth on the stage while Politt nabbed third overall after riding to ninth on the day.

“It’s been an amazing week,” Ganna said Sunday. “We have finished with two victories in five days, and now Kwiato finishing on the podium. It makes us want to dream even bigger. This victory is an important one for me and I hope to arrive even better in future races.”

The short final stage of the race played out over a two-part time trial, with the first nine kilometers pan-flat before a 2km, six percent climb to the finish line.

Hayter moved into the hotseat early in the day with a time of 15:21, with Rigoberto Urán (EF-Nippo) the first to come close with his ride of 15:44.

All eyes were on Ineos-Grenadiers pair Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas for hints of early-season form after injury-blighted 2020 campaigns. Bernal was off first down the ramp and posted a time that scored him 35th on the stage. TT specialist Thomas finished after 15:58 to finish 23rd.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) rode to 18th on the stage, 53 seconds down on his stage-winning compatriot. The GC veteran said his five days of racing made for an encouraging start to the year after a disappointing 2020.

“It was a good debut, I’m happy for the feeling I come back home with,” he said. “I got confirmation that the winter approach to the season was correct. We are going in the right direction, the one I was looking for in the first part of the season.”

Ganna was one of the relatively late starters and was the red hot favorite for the stage given his prolific TT palmarès and blistering win Saturday. The 24-year-old duly delivered to set a time of 15:00, moving to the top of the provisional ranking and bumping Groupama-FDJ rider Benjamin Thomas off the lead.

With only a handful of riders starting after Ganna, the Italian’s victory was assured, with the major results from there being the strong rides of Politt and Kwiatkowski to take GC podium positions.

Étoile de Bessèges GC stage 5:

  1. Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers): 15:00
  2. Benjamin Thomas (Groupama FDJ): +0:10
  3. Ethan Hayter (Ineos-Grenadiers): +0:21

Étoile de Bessèges final GC:

  1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal): 13:56:23
  2. Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers): +0:53
  3. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe): +0:59