Christophe Laporte took the opening stage, beating Nacer Bouhanni in an uphill finish in Bellegarde. Laporte is the first leader of the 5-day stage race.
The first stage of Etoile de Bessèges featured a though finale on the Côte de la Tour, but didn’t scare Laporte, who already won the GC of the European stage race in 2019. When Bouhanni accelerated in the final metres, Laporte jumped on his wheel and surged past him compatriot. Bouhanni wasn’t able to keep touch and Laporte crossed the line first, distancing his compatriot by a good two bike lengths.
Christophe Laporte will start the second stage with a 4 seconds advantage on Bouhanni and 8 seconds on Mads Pedersen.
"2020 wasn't easy. Past winter I was extremely motivated. I didn't experience any problems during my preperation for this season and I knew I would start 2021 in good shape. It came down to positioning well ahead of the final climb. I expected a late attack, so I was able to jump on the wheel of Bouhanni."
"I already won the sprint finish of tomorrow's stage, but the level of competitors is much higher this year. I hope to take some bonification seconds, seeing the closin time trial on Sunday."
"I'm very happy to kick off the season this way and give the team its first victory This gives a lot of confidence."