IAM Cycling rider Jérôme Coppel takes the victory in France's first major stage race of the 2016 season, Etoile de Bessèges
- Three stages wins for Direct Energie team
Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling) won the final stage time trial of the 2016 Etoile de Bessèges in France on Sunday to claim the overall victory in the early-season French stage race.
Coppel was comfortably the quickest rider over the 12-kilometre course around Alés, beating Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) by 14 seconds. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) placed third at 15 seconds.
Coppel unseated Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) from the race lead, as Chanavel finished fifth in the TT and gave away 30 seconds.
Earlier in the race, Direct Energie – formerly known as Europcar – had won the opening three stages, with sprinter Bryan Coquard claiming two stages and Chavanel one.
It’s the second time that Coppel has won the race overall, having previously won it in 2012 while riding for Saur-Sojasun.
The only British rider taking part in the race was Jacob Scott (An Post-Chain Reaction), who placed 31st overall, four minutes and nine seconds behind Coppel.
Etoile de Bessèges in southern France has been a firm fixture in the early-season European race calendar since 1971 and previous winners include Thomas Voeckler, Robbie McEwen and Nick Nuyens.
Etoile de Bessèges 2016 final general classification
1. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling in 14-49-26
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 13 secs
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 14 secs
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie at 16 secs
5. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ at 28 secs
6. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling at 33 secs
7. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) Ag2r la Mondiale at 40 secs
8. Maxime Montfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 49 secs
9. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Fortuneo Vital Concept at 53 secs
10. Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Roubaix Mét. Aurop. de Lille at 1-00
Stage one: Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
Stage two: Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
Stage three: Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie
Stage four: Angel Madrazo (Spa) Caja Rural
Stage five: Jérôme Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling