Dupont surprises the stars in Etoile de Besseges sprint

La Calmette (France) (AFP) –


Belgian sprinter Timothy Dupont ambushed the bigger names in the pack on Thursday when he won the second stage of the season-opening Etoile de Besseges.

Dupont, who rides for the second-tier Bingoal WB team, beat Frenchman Pierre Barbier of Delko and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), the European road-race champion, at the end of the 153.8km stage from Saint-Genies de Malgoires to La Calmette, just outside Nimes.

Frenchman Christophe Laporte of Cofidis, the winner of the opening stage, kept the leader's jersey by two seconds over Dupont. French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) is third.

Dupont won the sprint after the pack was hit by two late crashes, the first with 3.5km to go and the second at the last roundabout with 500 metres left.

The incidents disrupted the favourites as the big teams battled to position themselves to launch their sprinters.

Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Total Direct Energie) was one of the riders to hit the ground.

The five-day race in the south of France has attracted several big names this year, led by former Tour de France winners Colombian Egan Bernal and Welshman Geraint Thomas, both with Ineos.

On Friday, the third stage, is a 154.8km circuit that starts and ends in Besseges.