This cycling stage race is a sporting reference in the Gard, and was created in 1971 by Roland Fangille. In 2021, it was held between the 3rd and 7th February, despite the passing of its founder. There were four road race stages and one time trial stage. For the 4th stage, the Pays d’Uzès Pont du Gard destination was showcased as the cyclists crossed through ten of its towns.
So how did this cycling race come about?
In 1971, Roland Fangille, former cyclist, decided to create a cycling race based on three pillars: performance, proximity and heritage. The Étoile de Bessèges-Tour du Gard was born! It takes place in several stages and crosses through the most beautiful landscapes of the Gard. Roland Fangille wanted to combine his two passions: cycling and the Gard!
So if you decide to attend this cycling race, you’ll see some great sporting performances and explore our beautiful destination at the same time. Nature lovers won’t be disappointed: the route winds all the way from the Camargue to the Cévennes, via some iconic sites such as the Pont du Gard and the Gorges du Gardon. The spectators of this race can expect some superb views!
For the very first edition in 1971, the Étoile de Bessèges welcomed cyclist Raymond Poulidor. Fifty years later, the race has gone from strength to strength, thanks to its team of volunteers, and is a roaring success every year. Today, it is the first major European cycling race of the season. The first four stages are road cycling stages and the fifth one is the time trial stage in Alès.
In 2021, 22 teams, including 11 World Tour teams participated in this race.
Charity cycling event
The Étoile de Bessèges doesn’t stop there: it also organises a charity cycling event open to non-professionals, from the age of 18. The goal is to increase awareness and make a contribution to health and well-being issues and to encourage people to take up cycling. It’s a great opportunity to test your sporting performance or to just give yourself a challenge, whether you decide to participate alone or with friends!
This charity cycling event was cancelled for 2021 due to the sanitary crisis.
The 2021 edition
The cycling race was held from the 3rd to the 7th February 2021, despite the passing of its founder, Roland Fangille.
There were four road cycling stages, the last of which crossed through the Pays d’Uzès Pont du Gard destination. Ten of our towns were showcased during this stage: Vallabrix, Collias, Sanilhac-Sagriès, Saint-Siffret, Saint-Maximin, Uzès, Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, Saint-Victor-des-Oules, La Capelle-et-Masmolène, Saint-Hippolyte de Montaigu. The fifth stage was the traditional time trial stage in Alès.
Sustainable development, a priority
Cycling is an eco-friendly way of getting around. With this in mind, the organisers of the Étoile de Bessèges have been making their very own contribution to the United Nations sustainable development goals, since 2020, through this event. The goal is to turn the Étoile de Bessèges into the benchmark eco-responsible cycling race by 2022, and to make it completely carbon-neutral by 2023.
To achieve this goal, the event is planning on developing several carbon offsetting projects, and on organising a responsible consumption and zero waste initiative. Spectators are also invited to actively do their part in this more sustainable and responsible transition.
Protecting the local natural heritage and enhancing the natural environment have always been top priorities for the Étoile de Bessèges. That is why, besides the sporting aspect of the race, the founder Roland Fangille also wanted to showcase the natural environment of the Gard. Prior to the race, activities are also organised with the local schools to show the children of the area why it is so important to protect the biodiversity of the Gard.
The Étoile de Bessèges-Tour du Gard is also an opportunity to participate or attend a cycling race that showcases our destination’s natural heritage, while working to protect it at the same time!