WorldTeam Etoile de Bessèges - Tour du Gard | stage 3
WorldTeam France Stage 156.9 km Bessèges - Bessèges
Wellens solos to stage victory and leader’s jersey in Etoile de Bessèges
Tim Wellens secured Lotto Soudal's first victory of the season. The Belgian took an impressive solo victory in the third stage of Etoile de Bessèges. What had initially been announced as a stage for the sprinters turned out to be a totally different scenario. Immediately after the third stage of the Etoile de Bessèges kicked off, attacks were flying and a real fight to form the breakaway took place. Tim Wellens played one of the main roles in an effort to create the decisive breakaway. After an attractive and furious beginning, a large front group of seventeen riders finally formed. Lotto Soudal was the best represented team in the front group with the trio Gilbert-Oldani-Wellens.
The cooperation was perfect in the front group and despite a heavy pursuit in the peloton, the lead kept fluctuating around two minutes. It soon became clear that the front group would fight for victory and at around fifteen kilometres from the end, the tactical battle began. Wellens took his chance downhill and attacked. The 29-year-old Lotto Soudal rider quickly gained a nice advantage, didn’t look back and powered towards the finish in Bessèges, where he could celebrate his first victory of the season. Wellens won with a lead of over 30 seconds, Philippe Gilbert finished fifth.
“I couldn’t imagine a better start of the season”, reacts Tim Wellens. “Before the stage, I had already decided to go into the breakaway. We had a look at the course in the bus beforehand and noticed that the beginning of the stage was marked by hilly terrain, including several technical and wet descents. So, quite a tough stage. The level in this peloton is really high. A lot of riders would be interested in being part of the breakaway. So, I was really attentive to absolutely be up there. However, it took a long time before the right breakaway formed. A lot of good riders were in it, so it was immediately clear that we were going to battle it out for the win.”
“I saw my chance in the descent”, Wellens continued. "I took some advantage and teammate Oldani played it perfectly. Then, it was just a time trial to the finish. I also did the descent on the limit, I saw some oil on the road and the motorbike in front of me had a hard time keeping his line. Luckily, I was able to stay upright and I could further increase my lead.”
His impressive solo victory earns Wellens the lead in the general classification. Tomorrow, Wellens will start in Rousson with a 44-second lead on Edward Theuns, second overall.
“I now have a 48-second lead on Kwiatkowski in the general classification. Tomorrow, it will be difficult to further extend my advantage. But I will be happy if I can hold that lead going into Sunday’s time trial. If I feel good, I know it will be difficult to give away the overall victory. But you never know of course. Everyone can have a bad day, but we already did a recon of the time trial and the course suits me. First, it’s eight kilometres flat, followed by a short climb, which should be something for me. Hopefully, there won’t be too much chaos tomorrow and we can control things”, concludes the 29-year-old Lotto Soudal rider.
- WorldTeam Tim Wellens