Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) won stage 3 of the Etoile de Besseges ahead of Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X).
Cofidis also won the previous day’s stage with Bryan Coquard beating Pedersen in the uphill sprint.
Almost as soon as the flag was dropped, racing heated up, with overnight leader Pedersen trying to get away in a group with American Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premier Tech), and several others.
The group managed as much as a four-minute gap before the chasers started to bring them back. As the race proceeded into the final climb, the ascent to Trélis, Sheffield went on the offensive, but his move was neutralized.
The accelerations took a toll on Pedersen and he missed a crucial split that would ultimately cost him the overall lead.
Thomas launched an attack and escaped in the final 3km, managing to distance Bettiol and Johannessen and held them all the way to the line.
“I came to the Etoile de Besseges to raise my arms [in victory], the general classification comes afterwards. Tomorrow we will have to resist. I will be the man to beat,” Thomas said after the stage.