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Étoile de Bessèges stage 5 – Live race coverage


Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage from France for the final stage of Étoile de Bessèges. It's the all important time trial and riders have already started on the 11-kilometre time trial in Alès.

We already have riders out on the course and the early pace setters are close to finishing. You can find a list of all the start times, right here. Ganna won yesterday and he's the out-right favorite for today too.

Here are those stage 4 results and how things stand on GC coming into today's final stage.

Weather wise, the sun is out and we've got some gorgeous early spring weather. Patrick Gamper from Bora is currently hurtling towards the uphill finish. We'll have some finish times for you shortly. 

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Earlier this morning Greg Van Avermaet rode recon over the course. He's within a few seconds of the podium thanks to his consistency, and would love to open his AG2R account with a decent result. 

On the other side of the planet Australian road nationals have concluded with the elite road races. Results and reports can be found for both events, right here.

 Regarding today's course, it's a flat opening 8.5 kilometres culminating in a 2.5-kilometre, 8 per cent climb. Wellens should have more than enough to claim his first stage race title of 2021.

Alexis Renard has just rolled down the start ramp. In an interview with Sep Vanmarcke the Belgian had lots of good things to say about his news Israel Start-Up Nation teammate. The story is right here.

Here are the latest finish times from Direct Velo:

1    HAYTER Ethan (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'21"58
2    VAN DEN BERG Lars (Groupama-FDJ)    16'06"34
3    GAMPER Patrick (BORA-Hansgrohe)    16'48"86
4    TERPSTRA Niki (Total Direct Energie)    16'56"37
5    SOUPE Geoffrey (Total Direct Energie)    17'11"85
6    PAQUOT Tom (Bingoal-WB)    17'21"79

A few more early pace-setters trickle over the line but Hayter - the second year pro from Ineos still sits in the hotseat. 

Kwiatkowski is 48 seconds off Wellens's lead but only 4 seconds off second place. He's probably the biggest threat today in terms of the GC standings.

That time from Hayter, by the way, is the joint-second fastest of the past 3 years of the TT. 

A handful of riders come over the top of the climb and hit the finish but none of them are even close to Hayter at this point. Still a lot of strong riders, and Ganna to come.

Further out on the course and Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team has just started.

Ryan Mullen could be competitive today, and he's on the flatter section, where he'll hope to gain as much time on the climbers as possible.

Renard has just hit the final part of the climb but he's 1'13 down on Hayter.

The Ineos rider is still leading by 45 seconds. 

Mullen is about to catch his minute man but the's not yet on the final climb, although the road is already gently starting to rise.

Now Mullen hits the steeper section and he's out of the saddle almost right away. Suddenly that minute man finds a few more seconds and pulls away again.

Our current top ten on the stage from Direct Velo:

1    HAYTER Ethan (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'21"58
2    VAN DEN BERG Lars (Groupama-FDJ)    16'06"34
3    RUTSCH Jonas (EF Education-Nippo)    16'07"43
4    BOHLI Tom (Cofidis)    16'13"19
5    LOUVET Louis (St-Michel-Auber 93)    16'29"71
6    DEVRIENDT Tom (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)    16'42"31
7    GAMPER Patrick (BORA-Hansgrohe)    16'48"86
8    REPA Vojtech (Equipo Kern Pharma)    16'56"16
9    TERPSTRA Niki (Total Direct Energie)    16'56"37
10    TESSON Jason (St-Michel-Auber 93)    17'00"77

Mullen has 20 seconds to get to the finish and Hayter looks safe. The Irishman will still post a top-10 time by the looks of it. 16'21 and fifth for Mullen.

Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos comes up with a very good time with 16'04 and that puts him into second on the stage. 

Boasson Hagen and Bonnet are both out on the course. This isn't a bad course for a the Norwegian to be honest. 

At the start now and Bernal is putting on his helmet. He looks relaxed but ready to go. This will be a good indication of where he is in terms of form, although no one really expects him to be competitive. 

Mollema then rolls down the ramp and is straight into his TT position. Interesting fact he used to race without plastic on his handlebar hoods because he was allergic to the compound that was used. True story. 

Bernal is on the start ramp and he's off. No idea what he's allergic to. Sorry. 

Francisco Galvan Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma has just finished with a time of 15'56 and moves into second on the stage. 

Bernal has made it through the opening kms and looks settled on his TT bike. The first km is quite technical but then the roads open up and right now the former Tour winner is heading towards the first and only climb of the course. 

Mads Pedersen is also on the course too and he's not holding back in these early stages. 

Here goes Uran with the EF-Education Nippo rider the next athlete to start.

Another Grand Tour experts starts his TT, with Geraint Thomas starting a minute down on Uran.

Bernal is about to hit the line and he takes a time of 16'10 to move into tenth. He'll be happy with that, I think. 

Thomas is now on the climb to the finish and he's certainly pushing as he takes another one of these short, sharp corners. 

15'44 for Uran and that's good enough for provisional second. Thomas is still out there on the course.

15'59 and seventh for Geraint Thomas. He beats Bernal, no major surprise, but finishes behind Uran. 

1    HAYTER Ethan (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'21"58
2    URAN Rigoberto (EF Education-Nippo)    15'44"12
3    POSTLBERGER Lukas (BORA-Hansgrohe)    15'49"25
4    GROSSSCHARTNER Felix (BORA-Hansgrohe)    15'49"37
5    MOLLEMA Bauke (Trek-Segafredo)    15'51"38
6    GALVAN FERNANDEZ Francisco (Equipo Kern Pharma)    15'56"48
7    THOMAS Geraint (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'58"94
8    WISNIOWSKI Lukasz (Team Qhubeka ASSOS)    16'04"92
9    VAN DEN BERG Julius (EF Education-FDJ)    16'06"34
10    KIRSCH Alex (Trek-Segafredo)    16'06"64

From Direct Velo.

Nibali is out on the course too but we still have some time before the real GC threats start their TT. 

Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo is out on the course too and he looks rapid. This is a perfect course for him in theory and he's flying at the moment. 

Bettiol is on the climb and there's no let up from the former Tour of Flanders winner. This has top-ten written all over it but we've no time checks at present. 

Hermans with a good TT and he moves into seventh, which bumps Thomas down another place. 

Ganna starts his TT in 8 minutes. 

Bettiol takes second on the line, 15'35 for the Italian, with Hayter still leading. Are Ineos going to go 1-2 today in the results?

15'47 for Connor Swift at the line, which is a great ride from the young British pro at Arkea.

Ganna has just rolled down the start ramp in his worlds attire and he's sprinting out of some of these corners. He wants back to back stage wins. 

Meanwhile Doull has taken third at the line so Ineos currently sitting in first and third on the stage with Ganna still to come. 

Former winner of this race Laporte is out there too, riding well and the French TV crews are sticking with him but Ganna is the one deciding this stage at the moment. Laporte is holding his own though. He won stage 1 of course.

A new leader, out of no where but Benjamin Thomas goes 11 seconds faster than Hayter. What a ride from the Groupama FDJ rider.

Ganna almost looks under-geared here on the flat sections but he's about to start the climb to the finish.

Over by the rollers, oblivious to all of this, Tim Wellens warm-up by the Lotto Soudal team bus.

Ganna is on the climb now. It would be a massive shock if he didn't take the lead at this point. 

While Laporte takes third on the line. 

15'00 exactly for Ganna, who goes 10 seconds faster than Thomas from Groupama. It's going to be very hard to see that time being beaten today. 

Have we written off Politt, who is no slouch against the clock? He's on the course too as we see Gilbert start his TT.

Politt doesnt look to be threatening right now but he's still not even on the main ascent as we see Kwaitkowski begin his ride.

We're almost into the final few starters, with Tim Wellens heading to the start-ramp.

The latest top-10s from Direct Velo.

1    GANNA Filippo (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'00"33
2    THOMAS Benjamin (Groupama-FDJ)    15'10"82
3    HAYTER Ethan (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'21"58
4    LAPORTE Christophe (Cofidis)    15'31"36
5    BETTIOL Alberto (EF Education-Nippo)    15'35"82
6    DOULL Owain (INEOS Grenadiers)    15'38"49
7    URAN Rigoberto (EF Education-Nippo)    15'44"12
8    LATOUR Pierre (Total Direct Energie)    15'44"94
9    SWIFT Connor (Team Arkéa-Samsic)    15'47"65
10    POSTLBERGER Lukas (BORA-Hansgrohe)    15'49"25

Last man off, here goes Wellens as he tries to seal the win. No leader's jersey skinsuit for the Lotto Soudal rider.

Jake Stewart is at the top now and finishes 8th with 15'42, another strong ride from a Groupama FDJ youngster. 

Van Avermaet is putting in a good ride but it won't trouble the stage leaders. Is it enough to get him onto the podium though, that's the main aim? We'll have to wait and see.

Kwiatkowski, Schmidt and Wellens still out on the course. 

15'34 for Kwiatkowski, that's good enough for fifth on the stage. 

Wellens had 48 seconds over Kwiatkowski at the start of the stage.

Theuns looks like he's about to lose second place to the Ineos rider on GC. 

Theuns could be off the podium, with Kwiatkowski up to second at least. 

Wellens is on the limit but it looks like he's going to hang on.

He even beats Kwiatkowski on the line with a time of 15'29. 

So Politt move into third overall to complete the final podium, with Wellens having more than enough to complete the overall win. As for Ineos, they win back-to-back stages through Ganna. Impressive rides from Stewart and Thomas from Groupama FDJ though.

You can find our report, results and photos, right here.

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