Last week, a part of the Team was competing in the Gard region of France to take part in L’Etoile de Bessèges, the first stage race of the season on French territory. Team TotalEnergies was represented by a 100% French squad, including Mathieu Burgaudeau, Thomas Bonnet, Thomas Gachignard, Alexis Vuillermoz, Fabien Grellier, Sandy Dujardin and Valentin Ferron. Throughout the race, the group showed signs of promise, while continuing to build momentum in preparation for upcoming challenges.
However, this 2024 edition began with some bad news: the cancellation of the first stage, following a prefectoral decree linked to farmers’ protests in the region. L’Etoile de Bessèges therefore kicked off on Thursday, February 1, with a hilly 164km stage between Marguerites and Rousson, which saw Mathieu Burgaudeau finish just outside the Top 10 after a breathless and hard-fought final.
The following day, the Team was proudly represented at the head of the race on the queen stage by an ambitious and committed Thomas Gachignard, who was caught with just over 10km to go after a breakaway lasting over 120km. Finally, it was a bunch sprint that sealed the stage’s outcome, with Sandy Dujardin taking a creditable 4th place in Bessèges after a remarkable effort in the final hectometres.
On Saturday’s 4th stage, the peloton was finally surprised by the breakaway riders, who crossed the line with an extremely slender lead of 2 seconds. This was also the gap with which Sandy Dujardin, Mathieu Burgaudeau and Valentin Ferron finished, allowing Mathieu to stay in the hunt in the overall standings, just 16 seconds behind the podium.
To conclude this week in the Gard region, the riders face a time trial on stage 5. On a route of just over 10km around Alès, the squad once again worked hard. With an average speed of over 40km/h, Mathieu Burgaudeau took 17th place on the stage, just a few seconds behind the Top 10, and finished 14th overall.
This 2024 edition provided an opportunity for the squad to build on its momentum ahead of the forthcoming events, with several encouraging results and a highly positive group dynamic. Next up for the team: another stage race in the south of France with the Tour de Provence, starting this Thursday, February 8. Some of the riders will also be competing in Spain next weekend, in Murcia (Saturday, February 10) and Almeria (Sunday, February 11). An opportunity to consolidate recent efforts and get some great results!