Sander Helven won stage 1 of the 2014 Etoile de Bessèges – beating Laurens De Vreese and Benoît Jarrier in a sprint finnish.
The Belgian rider was part of a six-man breakaway group containing Laurens De Vreese, Benoît Jarrier, Boris Dron, Michael Goolaerts and Marcus Christie – that managed to ride clear in the first 10 kilometers. And, at one point, the group created a significant gap of 8:45 over the peloton.
De Vreese won the first intermediate sprint – gathering up the maximum number points on the first climb of the day.
With a 100 kilometers remaining, the leaders were briefly slowed, when Christie suffered a puncture. Meanwhile, La Pomme Marseille and FDJ.fr had slowly begun to reduce their lead as both teams chased in earnest.
During the second climb, the leaders began to breakup under the pace of De Vreese, as well as the peloton behind them as the chase pressed on.
With 12 kilometers and two laps remaining, the leaders still held a two minute gap over the chase group – ultimately nullifying their chances of reeling them in.
Helven won the sprint finish, while John Degenkolb claimed the bunch sprint for seventh place over Helven’s teammate Tom Van Asbroeck, with Yauheni Hutarovich finishing 22 seconds later.
Top 25 Finishers
1 Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 3:27:02 2 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty – Groupe Gobert 3 Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement 4 Boris Dron (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles 5 Michael Goolaerts (Bel) Verandas Willems 6 Marcus Christie (Irl) An Post – Chain Reaction 0:00:04 7 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:22 8 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 9 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R la Mondiale 10 Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 11 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Roubaix Lille Métropole 12 Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 13 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty – Groupe Gobert 14 Rudy Barbier (Fra) Roubaix Lille Métropole 15 Nicolas Vereecken (Bel) Verandas Willems 16 Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles 17 Tosh Van Der Sande (Ned) Lotto Belisol 18 Erwan Corbel (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement 19 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF 20 Kirill Yatsevich (Rus) Itera Katusha 21 Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement 22 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 23 Jack Wilson (Irl) An Post – Chain Reaction 24 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement 25 Julien Duval (Fra) Roubaix Lille Métropole
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