GPC Quebec and Montreal
Top Pros Do Battle in Canada
Reigning road world champion Peter Sagan (SVK, Team Tinkoff) won the seventh annual 16-lap, 201.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec over Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BEL, BMC Racing Team), with Anthony Roux (FRA, FDJ) in third.
Team Canada's Guillaume Boivin, a former National road champion who races for the Cycling Academy, was the top Canadian finisher in 17th at his first race back after suffering a broken shoulder in June and then requiring 13 stitches to his knee following a training accident.
Boivin's teammate Nicolas Masbourian was also prominent in Quebec City, as he and Jan Barta (CZE, Bora-Argon 18) bridged to an early break of six riders who stayed away for most of the race. Masbourian battled with Twan Castelijns (NED, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo) for King of the Mountain (KOM) points as the break gained more than four minutes.
With approximately 60 kilometres to go, Lars Bak (DEN, Lotto Soudal) attacked the break and it splintered as the remnants were caught. Bak was reeled in by Julian Alaphilippe (FRA, Etixx Quick-Step) and Luke Rowe (GBR, Team Sky) with 40 kilometres to go, while behind, the peloton split in several groups, but the trio was caught.
Matej Mohoric (SLO, Lampre-Merida) and Paul Voss (GER, Bora-Argon 18) tried their luck in vain as the finish line beckoned. With two kilometres to go, Alaphilippe went again, aided by teammate Matteo Trentin and Gianni Moscon (ITA, Team Sky), who went on to win the KOM classification.
But the three were also tamed as last year's winner Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) attacked in a last-gasp attempt to retain his title. The Colombian was 100 metres short of becoming the first man to keep his Quebec crown as Sagan surged to the front in the final 50 metres to beat Van Avermaet. Boivin finished in a small group at five seconds back.
“I'm surprised because I didn't really prepare for theses races. After the Tour de France, I trained for the mountain bike in Rio and then I was sick,” said Sagan. “I'm very happy to win because I didn't feel very good and had cramps towards the end. It's too early to talk about Montreal – we'll take some rest tomorrow and then we'll see.”
“This race is one of the hardest races in the season,” said Boivin. “I had a pretty good 10 days of training [after his crash], and I thought I felt not too bad. But training and racing are different beasts, so it is hard to know how your form is. With four laps to go, I was feeling pretty good, and just to be here was a bit of a miracle, so I'm definitely happy with the result. Hopefully, I can build on that for Road World Championships in mid-October.”
GP Cycliste de Montréal
Belgium's Van Avermaet (BEL, BMC Racing Team) got his revenge at the 205.7km Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal as he outmanoeuvred the rest of the favourites to power his way to an emphatic victory. Sagan (SVK, Team Tinkoff) had to be content with second place ahead of Diego Ulissi (ITA, Lampre Merida).
Team Canada's Ben Perry gave local fans something to cheer about, winning the KOM competition as he and his Silber teammate Matteo Dal-Cin were members of a six-rider breakaway that formed in the first few kilometres and stayed away for most of the race.
“It was a really long time off the front,” said Perry. “A guy from Bora-Ar-
gon 18 went and I followed him, and then Matteo caught us and eventually there were six of us. Kevin [Field], our director, thought it was more realistic for us to play our cards in the long-shot odds of a breakaway, and also go for the KOM. Matteo rode like an absolute tank the whole day, keeping me safe, so it's due to him that I made it. I haven't done many races over 200km, and I'm happy that I could do it on such a hilly race – for me that means a lot.”
With 165 starters, a youthful break of six under-25 riders soon got away. The peloton was content to let them go and their lead grew steadily to reach six minutes after 40 kilometres. Sagan's Team Tinkoff teammates seized the reins, maintaining the gap at approximately 5:30. The peloton raised the tempo during the last five laps as the break started to splinter.
As attacks began from the chasing group, the gap began coming down fast as remnants of the break were caught and all were together with two laps remaining in the 17-lap event.
The big battle started on the final ascent of Camilien-Houde when Ryder Hesjedal (CAN, Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (FRA, AG2R La Mondiale) and Rui Costa (POR, Lampre-Merida) attacked in turn. Costa, the 2011 winner, caught his rivals off-guard and led on his own for the last five kilometres before being reeled in shortly after the flamme rouge.
Alberto Bettiol (ITA, Cannondale-Drapac Procycling Team) tried to launch the sprint from afar, but Van Avermaet manoeuvred better and powered his way to an aptly deserved victory for the Olympic champion after three previous podiums in Canada.
“I came here many times and I had not managed to win yet, so I'm very happy I've done it. It's been an incredible year. I hope I can continue like this and win races like Flanders or Paris-Roubaix,” said Van Avermaet.
Top Canadian Hesjedal finished 19th in his last race in Canada, as he retires at the end of this season. “I really wanted to finish well, and with my Trek-Segafredo teammates, we tried to toughen the race on the last lap. I'm the best Canadian today, and it's not so bad. Thanks to @GPCQM and everyone on the road,” tweeted Hesjedal.
(opposite top) Guillaume Boivin was the top Canadian in Quebec City. (opposite) Reigning world road champ Peter Sagan (SVK) wins in Quebec City. (top left) Canada's Ben Perry won the King of the Mountain competition in Montreal. (top right) Ryder...