The race must go on: L’Etoile de Besseges continues despite protest

The peloton stops to protest freezing cold, windy weather in French stage race, but organizers insist that the race continue

LES FUMADES-LES BAINS, France (AFP) — Although the day was won by Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Roy Jans, the big story of stage 2 at l’Etoile de Bessèges was a rider protest that stopped the race on three occasions Thursday.

Facing temperatures in the low 20s at the start and extremely windy weather, the peloton chose to stop the race at kilometer 5 to protest. The organizers did not relent. Then, the bunch stopped again at 55 kilometers and again at 56 in the 155.7km stage, but still, the race went on.

The racers asked for either a complete cancellation or a reschedule, but neither options were accepted.

At the end of the day, the bunch sprinted into Les Fumades, a half-hour behind the organizer’s slowest anticipated finish time.

Friday’s stage, which starts and finishes in Bessèges, may offer a reprieve from the cold, blustery weather, with a forecasted high of 43 degrees and light winds expected. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) leads the race overall after winning stage 1.