Marcato wins in freezing conditions
Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) won a sprint finish in sub-zero temperatures to win stage four of the Etoile de Besseges.
The extreme weather, which also saw strong winds hit the region, meant that the planned 150km stage had to be abandoned in favour of three 22km laps of a circuit around Bagnols-suer-Ceze.
Marcato sprinted home for the win ahead of Nicko Eeckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly) and Julien El Fares (Team Type 1 – Sanofi).
Pierre Rolland (Europcar) stayed out of trouble to maintain his overall lead of six second ahead of Franck Vermeulen (Veranda Rideau).
The race concludes on Sunday with two stages in Ales – the first an 82km stage followed by a 9.7km individual time trial.
"It is good to win the first 2012 race for the team," said Marcato.
"Last Sunday I was close at La Marseillaise and now I take the win. This winter I worked hard on my sprint and it pays off. My shape is pretty good for the time of the year.”