The start of the season has already been delayed for plenty of star riders, following the cancellation of the Tour Down Under and more recently the postponement of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
But for many Grand Tour contenders the racing calendar restarts this season in France, with Etoile de Bessèges.
The five-stage 2.1-ranked race, which runs from February 3-7, features 11 WorldTour teams including Ineos Grenadiers and Israel Start-Up Nation.
There will be plenty of world-class riders racing in France, as Grand Tour contenders and Classics specialists begin their racing preparation.
Ineos Grenadiers are taking a stacked line-up to France, including Geraint Thomas, Eddie Dunbar and Ethan Hayter.
Other Grand Tour stars starting the race include Vincenzo Nibali and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Rigoberto Urán, while Classics specialists Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) will race against rivals Tim Wellens, John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal).
The race, centred around the Gard department in the south of France, will include three sprint stages and one undulating Classics-style stage, followed by an 11km individual time trial on the final stage, with a 2.5km, six per cent ramp to the finish.
Previous winners include Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale) in 2020, his team-mate Tony Gallopin in 2018, and Bob Jungels 2015.
While the race often attracts a number of WorldTour teams, the start list for 2021 is a step above owing to the uncertainty around the season and the cancellation of other early-season races.
The WorldTour calendar is still scheduled to get underway with the UAE Tour, starting on February 21, where Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation), Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) are all scheduled to start their seasons.
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