With the first categorized climb situated just 6,4 km into the stage, the German rider, who has led the classification since stage one, attacked as soon as the flag dropped.
Zimmermann won on the Col de Trelis and became part of a four-man breakaway which also included Marti Marquez Roman (Equipo Kern Pharma), who started the stage with the same amount of points as Zimmermann in the KOM classification.
The maximum advantage of the escapees was sitting around nine minutes halfway through the stage, before the peloton started reducing the gap steadily in anticipation of a bunch sprint in Bessèges.
Despite a determined chase from the bunch, the four riders were motivated to stay away and continued to push hard at the front of the race.
Zimmermann attacked inside the final 15 kilometers and was virtual General Classification leader, but was eventually caught by the rest of the breakaway, who continued to cooperate well in the finale.
The peloton was closing in on the breakaway inside the final 10 kilometers, however the advantage was still one minute with six kilometers to go and on the final lap, it was all or nothing for the breakaway riders who started to attack each other ahead of the flamme rouge.
In the end, the peloton was denied a bunch sprint and it was a two-rider battle for the stage win between Zimmermann and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), who managed to cross the line ahead of the German rider.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“I went today in a breakaway with the main goal of protecting my KOM jersey. Unlike the bunch, it turned out that we worked well so we had the opportunity to go to the finish line. We worked well until the last climb, then I attacked and tried to go solo to the finish, but the rider from Alpecin was too strong and I could’t drop him so we went together for the last 10 km. Then we were caught by two other riders, who were in the breakaway, and our collaboration stopped. The bunch was really close and they were about to catch us but luckily we were able to finish. When it came to final sprint, I felt really good but, unfortunately, De Bondt was stronger. All in all, I’m really happy with my stage result and the fact that I kept the KOM jersey for tomorrow. For me, it was a perfect day”
Race name: Etoile de Bessèges
Top 3: 1. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), 2. Georg Zimmermann (CCC Team), 3. Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling)
CCC Team top 3: 2. Georg Zimmermann, 17. Jakub Mareczko, 28. Gijs Van Hoecke