Étoile de Bessèges 2024 – Stage 2

As I have not heard anything else, I expect the second stage to be ridden.


A stage where the climbing comes in the second part of the race with a steep finish.

We are being a bit creative with the planimetry today. Starting in the south, passing Alès and finishing on the Rousson Hill.

This is the long climb I was talking about. Col de la Baraque, without the plateau at the top. After sniffing around on Strava, I’ve noticed Cofidis, TotalEnergies, Tudor and Alpecin-Deceuninck all rode it today (as stage 1 was cancelled).

Afterwards follows a narrow and fast descent, at the bottom going through La Grand-Combe before the little counter-kicker.

The small climb is Côte du Pradel, also ridden by Cofidis, TotalEnergies, Tudor and Alpecin-Deceuninck.

From here, there still is 45 km to the finish. The final climb of the day is the Plateau de Rousson. Short and steep. Coquard beat Mads Pedersen, T. H. Johannessen and Burgaudeau in the sprint. The run-in is difficult, you’d want a strong lead-out far out or an acceleration 2000m from the line to get into position.


Not very windy, and 16 degrees C.

How will the stage unfold?

We had the finish back in 2022. Now, this time around the stage is different. Côte du Pradel was closer to a finish and a different ascent to the top. However, we didn’t have the Col de la Baraque. For those of you who missed the stage back in 2022, it ended in a sprint. A rather large bunch sprint, until the time gaps came on the climb.

Do any teams which for a tough day? The goal for many teams must be to distance Mads Pedersen. I think we will see plenty of teams willing to. If they bring Mads Pedersen to the line, he will be very difficult to beat. The teams for this looks to be EF, AG2R and TotalEnergies.

I think with Col de la Baraque, the tricky descent and Côte du Pradel you can actually make the stage tough. The main issue is the distance from the finish. Plus, if Mads Pedersen is in shape, they are not dropping him anyway.

All in all, we should see a sprint in Rousson.


Mads Pedersen – beat by Coquard back in 2022. Once again, I question his current shape. He is a slow starter from time to time, so I would not be surprised to see him dropped tomorrow. I think if a few teams gang up on him, he can get into trouble but there is a chance to get back on. Tomorrow, we will find the answers.

Mathieu Burgaudeau – started to far back in 2022, otherwise he did a brilliant job on the climb itself. It suits him a lot, making him a serious contender for the podium tomorrow.

Alberto Bettiol – started perfectly in 2022 and finished 5th. The team is strong enough to try and distance the sprinters. I think Alberto would like some bonus seconds ahead of the time trial and tomorrow is a good place to start.

Cosnefroy – suits the puncheur well. He will be one of the favorites despite his 2023 season. He is the purest puncheur here, and hopefully he can get back to 2022 level.

B. Thomas – a top-10, just like in 2022. Maybe a top-5 even.

Vauquelin – he is good on double digits. A top-10.

Geniets – a big rider who can manage double digits. A top-10.

Healy – EF’s option #2. Send him on the offensive and hope some riders decide to join him? Otherwise, he will play a crucial role for Bettiol.

Menten – 8th here in 2022. He can manage the climbing if in form.

Laurence – youngster coming through. He still needs to prove he can race with the seniors. A top-10 would be a good result.

Who will win?

I will take a win for Cosnefroy.

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