Arnaud De Lie has also won the third stage of the Etoile de Bessèges. The Lotto Dstny rider again impressed on the way to Bessèges and showed to be the fastest of a heavily reduced bunch at the end. For De Lie, it’s a second consecutive victory at the Etoile de Bessèges, after yesterday’s stage was neutralised. The 20-year-old Belgian also extended his lead in the general classification, on the eve of the queen stage towards Mont Bouquet.
The third stage exploded on a local circuit including two climbs. A strong-looking Arnaud De Lie could once again count on the support of this teammates and could just hold on to the leading group during the final ascent. After the final time up Col des Brousses, the lead group split to pieces on a technical descent. De Lie got caught by a chasing group, which still closed the gap towards the front of the race. In the penultimate kilometre, it was De Lie himself who tried to escape the bunch but eventually the 20-year-old would finish it off in a reduced bunch sprint, where he clinched his second Etoile de Bessèges stage win in impressive manner.
Arnaud De Lie: “Maybe this victory looked easy but I can tell you that this was not the case. We expected the race to open really early but in the end, it was only on the local circuit that things exploded. I wasn’t immediately up there on the penultimate ascent, but luckily my teammates brought me back in contention. On the final climb, I did everything to try to follow, but honestly I was a bit cooked and started the descent in last position, where it eventually split.”
In the chase, De Lie hoped that it would all come back together for a sprint, which it eventually did in the last kilometres.
“I was lucky that the cooperation wasn’t great in the front group. Eventually it all came together in the last kilometres and I still answered an attack by a Uno-X rider because attack is the best defence, right? We got caught however but I could still recover. I had to do a long sprint but that’s just how I like it. It feels fantastic to again reward great teamwork because without Sébastien Grignard and Cedric Beullens at the start, it wasn’t easy today.”
“Tomorrow’s summit finish? Of course you should defend a leader’s jersey to the best of your abilities, but it really is a tough climb. I don’t expect to make it but we will give our all, that’s for sure”, concludes a motivated Arnaud De Lie.