Sojasun's Hivert off to winning start at Etoile de Bessèges

An all-French battle in the final time trial decided the winner of the Etoile de Bessèges, with Jonathan Hivert overhauling Team Europcar's Jérôme Cousin to claim his first stage race title since turning professional in late 2005.

The win brings early-year satisfaction for the rider who's most recent victory was on stage two at last year's Tour de Romandie - before the 27-year-old went on to achieve a number of strong results in the latter half of the year.

The weekend's victory marks the Frenchman's first overall stage race title and Sojasun's first scalp of the year. The Professional Continental squad has performed strongly against the top-tier ProTeams over the past season with wins at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Tour de Luxumbourg, Route du Sud and GP de Wallonie highlighting the 2012 season.

For Hivert however, it marks another step in his career which has been dedicated to the services of Sojasun for the past three seasons. Hivert's ninth-place ride in the final 9.7km time trial was enough to secure the win by a mere four seconds over Cousin with third-place overall Anthony Roux (FDJ) a further one-second behind.

"I have lived two almost identical days yesterday and this morning, where the objective was to not get trapped and lose time," said Hivert on the team's website. "Fortunately, I had very strong guys around me, real strong riders, who like the wind and they did the job really well."

"I went over my limits to win. It is a great satisfaction because a victory as early in the season, it's good for everyone. It unlocks the meter and it really puts everyone on their way. Again a huge thank you to my teammates for their help, it is their job that allowed this victory!"


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