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Mads Pedersen scores Etoile de Bessèges stage 1 win

The Trek-Segafredo rider sprinted to stage win in blustery conditions that shattered the main bunch.

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Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) held off Hugo Hofstetter (Team Arkéa-Samsic) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) in an uphill tilt to the line to take the opening stage of the Étoile de Bessèges.

Crosswinds shattered the main bunch some 90km into the stage, and forced smaller groups on the road to chase after an elite bunch on the front that contained a handful of other, recent world and Olympic champions.

How it happened

The 160km circuit started and finished in Bellegarde, and took on the 600m, 6.5 percent average grade Côte de la Tour on each of the three laps that made up the route.

On the first trip up, Thomas Denis (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole) tried to escape but the gambit was short-lived.

Shortly after Denis was brought back, Lindsay De Vilder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) went away and got a three-and-a-half-minute lead.

In windy conditions, a solo attempt looked less likely, and by the second time up the Côte de la Tour, De Vilder’s gap was down to a minute.

The race came apart at 70km to go when winds helped to rip the main bunch apart.

Some three-dozen riders, including Filippo Ganna and Richard Carapaz (both Ineos Grenadiers), 2016 Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Zwift ace Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix), and others turned the screws on the race forcing UAE Team Emirates and Arkéa-Samsic to do the work.

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) unsuccessfully tried to bridge to the front.

In the finale, with 20km remaining, the bunch on the front shed Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) and Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën) who found the pace too high well before the foot of the final ascent of the Côte de la Tour.

While the bunch chasing Pedersen’s group had brought the advantage to about half a minute on the work of Team UNO-X, dozen on the front worked well to keep the pursuers behind them.

TotalEnergies worked for Boasson Hagen, with Mathieu Burgaudeau and Christopher Lawless sheltering their team captain. But Boasson Hagen could not hold the Danish 2019 world champion in the finale.

Stage 2 Thursday, is a 156km route from Saint-Christol-les-Alès to Rousson, which features two category 2 climbs, and another uphill drag to the finish.

2022 Etoile de Bessèges stage 1 Results

  1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), 03:32:37
  2. Hugo Hofstetter (Team Arkéa-Samsic), at: 01
  3. Edvald Boasson-Hagen (TotalEnergies), at s.t.
  4. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), at s.t.
  5. Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), at s.t.
  6. Christopher Lawless (TotalEnergies), at :04
  7. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers), at :07
  8. Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), at :07
  9. Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën Team), at s.t.
  10. Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), at :11