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Étoile de Bessèges stage 4 – Live race coverage

Etoile de Besseges stage 4 profile

Etoile de Besseges stage 4 profile (Image credit: Etoile de Besseges)

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Etoile de Bessèges: Wellens solos to victory on stage 3

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Stage 4 result
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 3:22:57
2Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis 0:00:17
3Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
5Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
6Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9August Jensen (Nor) Delko
10Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
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General classification after stage 4
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 13:40:54
2Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:44
3Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:46
4Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:48
5Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:49
6Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:50
7Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
8Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
9Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the penultimate stage of the 2021 Étoile de Bèsseges. Today's stage 4 will run 151.6km from Rousson to Saint-Siffret, and features an uphill finish.

Teams are currently signing on for the stage, which is set to start in around 15 minutes.

The big news from today, however, is that Bora-Hansgrohe star has tested positive for COVID-19 while at a training camp in Gran Canaria.

See more

Yesterday's stage 3 saw Lotto Soudal man Tim Wellens take control of the race with a solo victory in Bèsseges. The Belgian leads the GC by 44 seconds ahead of Trek-Segafredo's Edward Theuns heading into these final two stages.

Read the stage 3 report here.

BESSGES FRANCE FEBRUARY 05 Arrival Tim Wellens of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Celebration during the 51st toile de Bessges Tour du Gard 2021 Stage 3 a 1548km stage from Bessges to Bessges EDB2020 on February 05 2021 in Bessges France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The peloton have set off from Rousson now and they're riding along the 2.2-kilometre neutralised zone.

Cofidis rider Anthony Perez suffers the first misfortune of the day. He had a puncture in the neutralised zone.

150km remaining

But he's back in the peloton as they get racing underway and start stage 4.

The first difficulty of the day – the second-category climb of the Côte de Lussan – comes after around 14km of racing today, so attacks are flying from the start here.

Nobody has managed to get away yet.

Meanwhile, there has been other racing going on over in Australia. Read our report for the U23 men's road race at the Australian National Championships here.

140km to go

Alexandre Delettre (Delko) and Sean Bennett (Qhubeka Assos) are trying to attack as the riders reach the base of that first climb.

The duo didn't manage to get away, though, as the peloton hit the climb.

Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Alexys Brunel (Groupama-FDJ) and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) have jumped away from the peloton. The trio's efforts have gained them 15 seconds so far.

135km to go

Perez, Brunel and Ganna have crossed the first climb of the day, the Côte de Lussan, 25 seconds up on the peloton. Brunel leads the way.

The leading trio look in a strong position going forward, which means that others are trying to make it across before it's too late.

Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) are attempting to bridge the gap.

126km to go

Perez, Brunel and Ganna have extended their lead to 2:15 now. That's the break of the day. Robeet and De Bondt still chase.

De Bondt and Robeet lie 35 seconds back on the lead trio. A five-man group would certainly be a better proposition for the break than just three.

120km to go

The leaders are two minutes up on the peloton now, while the chasers remain a minute back.

The riders are less than 10km away from the second climb of the day. It's another second-category climb, the Côte de Cavillargues.

More news elsewhere – two new Italian races have been added to the calendar for 2021. The organisers of the Giro dell'Emilia will also be organising the Per sempre Alfredo in March and Settimana Ciclistica Italiana in July.

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Back in Bèsseges, and it looks like the two break groups have indeed merged to make it five men out front. The gap remains stable at around two minutes.

There's no danger to overall leader Tim Wellens, so far. With the break's advantage limited so far, Filippo Ganna has little chance of taking the race lead. He's the best-placed man in the break, 3:26 down on the Belgian.

108km to go

Over the top of the Côte de Cavillargues and the lead quintet lie 2:10 up on the peloton. Robeet leads the group over ahead of Perez and Brunel.

A small drama in the break as Robeet stops to change his bike. He's back up and running quickly, though.

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After that climb and the descent, the riders will soon be heading across the finish line for the first time today. They'll get three previews of the uphill finish before crossing the line for a final time in just under 100 kilometres.

95km to go

Robeet took a while to get back to his breakmates after that bike change. He's just managed to get back on and it's a group of five once more.

Back in the peloton, Lotto Soudal are unsurprisingly in control of things for race leader Tim Wellens.

Find out how to watch the Étoile de Bessèges from anywhere with our handy guide.

How to watch Étoile de Bessèges – live TV and streaming

90km to go

The riders pass through Saint-Siffert and cross the finish line for the first time today. There are two minutes between the break and peloton at the moment.

It's an uphill drag to the line – 1.1km at 5.6 per cent. Longer than the finish of the opening stage which saw Christophe Laporte prevail, but it's less steep.

De Bondt led the break across the line for a few sprint points with Ganna taking second. The peloton passed through 1:30 later.

Ineos Grenadiers' Chris Lawless has abandoned the race. The Briton is most noted for winning the Tour de Yorkshire when it was last held, back in 2019.

80km to go

As the riders reach the feed zone, the gap between the Lotto Soudal-led peloton and break still stands at 1:55. There's not much reason to push hard to bring the leading five back just yet.

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(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Since the last update, the gap has fallen to 1:20 after the peloton has upped the pace slightly.

70km to go

B&B Hotels p/b KTM have joined Lotto Soudal. They'll be working for Bryan Coquard, who should be well-suited to today's finish.

It's been quite a quick day so far, with the riders covering 42.5kph over the opening two hours.

It's up and down on the rolling roads for now. The riders will head back to the finish line again in around 20 kilometres.

50km to go

As the break pass the 50km mark, their advantage holds at 1:40. A mix of teams are on the front of the peloton – EF Education-Nippo, B&B Hotels, and Total Direct Energie.

The five men in the break are still co-operating, still working well together. It'll be a while before the attacks start up front.

The gap is coming down, bit by bit, as EF, TDE and the other sprinter's teams put in the work.

42km to go

Perez briefly jumps off the front of the break as the road heads uphill once more. He's thought better of it, though. Strength in numbers for now.

Brunnel drifted off the back of the break on a downhill section, but he's back up there now. Just over a minute back to the peloton at the moment.

32km to go

It's under a minute now for the first time all stage. The big question now is when the catch will be made and who will take control on the final run-in.

It's still the same group of teams – EF Education-Nippo, B&B Hotels p/b KTM, and Total Direct Energie – working at the head of the peloton.

Qhubeka Assos are massing a little further back.

There's some cyclo-cross going on today as well. It's the Superprestige round in Middelkerke and the women's race has already finished.

Check out our report on the race here.

25km to go

The break have just 33 seconds now. Bora-Hasgrohe and Lotto Soudal move towards the front, too.

It's EF who are making the biggest effort, though. They've had a larger presence at the front of the peloton, with Total Direct Energie a close second.

21km to go

Up front, the break are approaching the run to the line for the penultimate time. They're just 20 seconds up on the peloton now as Pierre Latour (Total Direct Energie) puts in an attack.

Two from EF, two from Total Direct Energie and one from Intermarche-Wanty Gobert have split off the front of the peloton on the climb.

Brunel leads the way for the break, but that attack group has them in their sights.

Niki Terpstra and Pierre Latour are the TDE riders on the move. Robeet drops from the break, meanwhile.

Terpstra and Latour make it across to the lead quartet accompanied by EF rider Alberto Bettiol.

18km to go

Lotto Soudal and AG2R Citroën take it up at the head of the peloton. The gap is 18 seconds.

Bora-Hansgrohe have several men up there to help the chase, too.

15km to go

24 seconds now. The leaders are working well togther at the moment.

There are still two small unclassified climbs between the riders and the final ascent to the line.

Now Trek-Segafredo move to the head of the peloton, accompanying AG2R, Lotto and Bora. There's a lot of firepower being called on to pull this lead group back.

13km to go

They're making it work, too. The gap is down to 12 seconds.

There are some strong riders in this lead group – some of them more tired after a day out front – but they won't be any match for the charging peloton here. AG2R, Lotto and Trek have formed three distinct lines at the front.

11km to go

Passing through the twisting roads of a town helps the break a little, but 11km is a long time to hold a 12-second gap.

9km to go

Israel Start-Up Nation move up to do some work now. They'll be working for Rudy Barbier here.

Ganna turns on the power in the lead group, meanwhile. There's no answer from behind as a rider tries to wave away the television moto in front of the Italian.

The gap is – apparently – up to 22 seconds now. Interesting. If anyone can pull this move off, it's world time trial champion Ganna.

8km to go

He's fully off on his own, hands draped over bars, powering along. I don't think his six former companions will be bringing him back.

Remind: it's Latour, Terpstra, De Bondt, Bettiol, Brunel and Perez chasing.

5km to go

Ganna has pulled out 20 seconds on the chasers, while the peloton seems to have given up. They're a full 40 seconds down now.

A couple of kilometres ago, it looked a certainty that the peloton would make the catch and that we'd see the sprinters fight it out in the finale. But then Filippo Ganna thought 'nah'...

4km to go

The chasers are still plugging away – there's a small chance that some mishap befalls Ganna and they make the catch. 

It's over for the peloton, though. 45 seconds now.

2km to go

Ganna is 3:26 down on the GC, while the men in the chase group are no closer to GC leader Tim Wellens. We'll keep an eye on what happens in the peloton, but this result won't change the rankings as things stand.

1km to go

Ganna enters the final kilometre – and that 5.6 per cent rise to the line – with a 24-second advantage on the chasers. The peloton is 45 seconds down.

It's a coronation for Ganna at this point, certain to be his first win of the 2021 season.

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 4 of the Étoile de Bèsseges!

The television cameras didn't catch the chase group, only showing Laporte leading the peloton across the line. It looks like they might've caught the chasers in that final run to the line, then...

Yep, Laporte led the peloton across the line for second place. He beat Bora-Hansgrohe's Pascal Ackermann into third.

Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) and Milan Menten (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) were fourth and fifth.

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) will remain in the leader's jersey with a comfortable gap tonight. Just the 11km time trial to get through tomorrow and he'll be the 2021 champion!

Wellens still leads Edward Theuns by 44 seconds, while Mads Würtz Schmidt is third at 46 seconds.

It'll take a momentously awful and unlucky day for Wellens to lose this race, though the fight for the podium will be more interesting, with the rest of the top 10 lying within six seconds of second.

Ganna celebrating his victory today.

Etoile de Besseges 2021 51st Edition 4th stage Rousson Saint Siffret 152 km 06022021 Filippo Ganna ITA Ineos Grenadiers photo Roberto BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Our short report and brief results are up already. Stay tuned for a full look back at the day's racing as well as all the results from stage 4.

Be sure to join us again tomorrow for that final stage time trial! 

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