The attacks commenced right after the start, but it wasn’t until the 10-kilometer mark when seven riders, including Małecki, managed to go clear.
The bunch kept the escapees on the short leash, not allowing their advantage to exceed two and half minutes and although there were two categorized climbs on the cards, none of the breakaway riders threatened Zimmermann’s KOM lead.
The counter attacks started just before the second KOM when several riders joined Małecki’s group to form an 11-man breakaway with an advantage of less than one minute over the peloton in the last 30 kilometers.
As was the case on stage three, the breakaway pushed hard to hold off the peloton and despite a strong chase from behind,
several riders from the breakaway, including Małecki, were left to sprint for the stage win.
In the end, Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling Team) took the win while Małecki sprinted to third place, his first podium in a stage race in his debut season with CCC Team.
With just a time trial on stage five remaining, Zimmermann has all but wrapped up the KOM classification with 28 points, six points ahead of Marti Marquez (Equipo Kern Pharma).
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Today we were supposed to be vigilant and go with bigger breakaways. After ten kilometers, a group of seven riders, including me, formed. We worked together but the peloton didn’t want to let us go. With 40 kilometers to the finish, we only had a one-minute advantage and then, the counter attacks from the bunch started. Several NTT riders managed to bridge across and set a strong pace. There was a climb in the last five kilometers and Ben O’Connor set an extremely high pace from the bottom and because of that, some riders from our group were dropped.
Attacks started about two and a half kilometers from the finish but I decided to ride my own pace as I knew that this could be the best solution for me. With 500 meters to go, I managed to reach Simon Clarke and I decided immediately to go as fast as I could to lose him. But in the end, he had more power. I crossed the finish line behind him, in third place. I am proud of how I rode today. I showed that I can fight against the best riders. I am very happy because it is a great success and I hope it is not the last!
Etoile de Bessèges
Stage 3: Le Pont du Gard > Le Mont Bouquet (138.7km)
Top 3: 1. Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling Team), 2. Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling), 3. Kamil Małecki (CCC Team)
CCC Team top 3: 3. Kamil Małecki 30. Jonas Koch, 34. Georg Zimmermann