Created in 1971 the Etoile de Bessèges is now over 40 years old and its founder Roland Fangille with his small band of volunteer cycling enthusiasts could never have imagined that the race would become international and bring together a peloton worthy of the biggest races.
Until 1973 the race was run on a single day, then from 1974 a six-day stage race replaced the Grand Prix and the "star" began to shine. As the result of a new rule from the UCI the race was trimmed to five days in 1977 and Fangille responded by creating a single day race, the Grand Prix d'Ouverture, which was turned over to the newspaper La Marseillaise in 1989, leaving Fangille and his team to focus solely on the Etoile de Bessèges.
Many great names of the international cycling scene have written their names on the palmarès of the race: Jacques Esclassan, Dietrich Thurau, Jan Raas, the Planckaert brothers, Niki Rütimann, Adrie Van Der Poel, Beat Zberg, Etienne De Wilde, Sergei Outschakov, Jan Svorada, Robbie McEwen, Fabio Baldato, Laurent Brochard, Nick Nuyens, Yuri Trofimov, Thomas Voeckler, Samuel Dumoulin, Bob Jungels and last years 46th edition was won by Jerome Coppel which was his second overall race victory.
Magnificent stage victories have been recorded by great champions including Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Cyrille Guimard, Joop Zoetemelk, Gerrie Knetemann, Eric Vanderaerden, Charly Mottet, Régis Simon, Urs Freuler, Gilbert Glaus, Mario Cipollini, Wilfried Nelissen, Jaan Kirsipuu, Jean-Paul Van Poppel, Tom Steels, Baden Cooke, Jens Voigt, Jimmy Casper, Nicki Sørensen, Richard Virenque, Luc Leman, Nacer Bouhanni, Marcel Kittel and Bryan Coquard.
Today the cycling season begins in Australia or Argentina and continues in Dubai or Malaysia but the European season starts here with the Etoile de Bessèges, an essential race at the beginning of the year for riders and media alike.
Despite the years of snow, rain and freezing winds, the Etoile de Bessèges still shines with the happiness of everyone present. As Roland Fangille once said: "we've managed to keep going because we believed in it and we've been able to live our passion through it."Stage: 1 - 1st February : Bellegarde - Beaucaire, 158 kmStage: 2 - 2nd February : Nîmes - Rodilhan, 152 kmStage: 3 - 3rd February : Bessèges - Bessèges, 152 kmStage: 4 - 4th February : Chusclan - Laudun, 153 kmStage: 5 - 5th February : Alés ITT, 12 kmTeams Startlist
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| Previous winners|
|2016|| COPPEL Jérome|| |
|2015|| JUNGELS Bob|| |
|2014|| LUDVIGSSON Tobias|| |
|2013|| HIVERT Jonathan|| |
|2012|| COPPEL Jerome|| |
|2011|| RAVARD Anthony|| |
|2010|| DUMOULIN Samue|| |
|2009|| VOECKLER Thomas|| |
|2008|| TROFIMOV Yury|| |
|2007|| NUYENS Nick|| |
As has been the case in recent years the GC may well be decided by the final stage time trial with the previous stages offering some opportunities to the sprinters and those willing to race aggressively.
The race can be followed here