Etoile de Bessèges (2.1) – Stage 1 preview

Wednesday 3 February 2021 – Bellegarde> Bellegarde ~13:10-16:52 Broadcast starts at 14:30, watch at Sporza, L’Equipe or Tiz.

Almost the same parcourse as last year but keep in mind the start list overall is way stronger now. This is the top 5 from that stage:

1.Alexys Brunel3:20:43
2.Benoit Cosnefroy+1′
3.Edward Planckaert+3′
4.Alex Kirsch+5′
5.Scott Thwaites+8′
2020 Stage 1

It was a windy day, echelons formed with 90k to go but they didn’t last long. When it came back together Calmejane attacked a few times. because of those efforts the peloton reduced in size but he didn’t manage to get away.

A front group of ~30 riders arrived at the 15k to go mark, on the following climb at just 9k to go Cosnefroy launched an attack but he was brought back. Simon Clarke and Langeveld tried as well. But the following attack turned out to be the deciding one.

Alexys Brunel, a young rider for FDJ attacked with 4k to go and stayed away successfully. Cosnefroy came quite close in the end, with just 1 second advantage Brunel was the first to come over the line.

The penultimate climb on which Cosnefroy made his move is not there this edition so the final is a little bit easier. The finish itself is the same. As the time gaps indicate the finish is uphill, 600 metre at 6.3% to be exact with a section of 11% average in there.

Because of the flat run-in it will be easier to control the stage for the bigger teams. Therefore I think the chances of a solo attacker taking the victory like last year are smaller.

30% chance, late attack. Because there isn’t a real point before the finish where riders can make a difference I think a small group is more likely than a solo attacker, ‘easy’ to follow someone on the flat. I think the following riders have a chance in this scenario;

Tim Wellens, Alexys Brunel, Michal Kwiatkowski, Alberto Bettiol, Michael Valgren, Odd Christian Eiking, Bauke Mollema, Benjamin Thomas, Andreas Kron, Anthony Turgis, Felix Grossschartner, Simon Clarke, Filippo Ganna, Nils Politt and Quentin Pacher.

70%. ‘sprint’. Some riders have to rely on their sprint or have teammates who are likely to attack while they stay a bit further back saving energy and waiting for the last 600 meter. I think it is more likely it will be a sprint because there are a few teams like AG2R, B&B hotels, Cofidis, Alpecin and Arkea who have a good sprinter on board but no riders who could attack successfully. It will be quite easy to control because it is mostly flat in the final before the final climb. This are the riders I expect in this scenario;

Greg van Avermaet/Oliver Naesen/ Marc Sarreau, Bryan Coquard, Nacer Bouhanni, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Christophe Laporte, Tim Merlier, Danny van Poppel, John Degenkolb, Jake Stewart, Kiko Galvan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Mads Pedersen and Pascal Ackermann.

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