Posted by Editoress on 09/13/10
Men's Pro Road Racing Returns to Montreal
Photos (more to come)
After a day in transit from Quebec City, the GP Cycliste concluded with a second ProTour race on the famed Mont Royal circuit in the center of Montreal. Thousands lined the long main climb up Camilien-Houde, and saw Robert Gesink of Rabobank launch the race winning attack on the last lap. Canadian favourite Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) was part of the chase group that came to within four seconds of Gesink on the line, but he could only manage third, behind Peter Sagan (Liquigas Doimo).
The 16 lap race took the riders around a 12.6 kilometre circuit with historic significance - Eddy Merckx won a world title on it in 1974. It was used for the 1976 Olympic road race, and Steve Bauer won the inaugural edition of the GP des Ameriques World Cup here in 1988. Since then, it has also been part of the Classique de Montreal and the Women's World Cup series.
After the start on Avenue de Parc, the riders turn left and immediately begin to ascend the two kilometre Mont Royal climb. Over the top there is long, gradual three kilometre descent and then the nasty, short Polytechnique climb, with an 11% section. It is followed by sharp descent and the riders then skirt the base of Mont Royal back to Avenue de Parc. They head past the start-finish line, downhill towards the skyscrapers in downtown Montreal, before making a final u-turn and a last little kicker up to the finish line.
The first lap saw a flurry of attacks, which stretched the peloton out and saw riders getting shelled already. Nothing stuck until late in the lap, when two riders got away - Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi). They were joined early in the second lap by Alfredo Balloni (Lampre - Farnese Vini) Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Caisse d'Epargne) and Julien Bernard (Ag2r-La Mondiale). They were joined by Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step).
The early break
The gap yo-yo'd at 15-25 seconds through the lap, and finally started to grow on the third lap. The group dropped to four, when Balloni managed to somehow crash on his own on the descent. The peloton backed off somewhat in their chasing at this point, and the gap gradually extended to three and a half minutes by the halfway mark; the maximum it would achieve.
Team Sky and RadioShack were both keeping a watchful eye and setting tempo at the front, and were joined by Hesjedal's team as the race passed the ten lap mark. The gap started to drop fairly rapidly at this point, especially when Chris Horner (RadioShack) launched off the front of the peloton, and was joined Tiago Machado (Team Radioshack), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre - Farnese Vini), Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Doimo), André Steensen (Team Saxo Bank) and Chris Anker Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank).
Horner's group quickly swept up the remnants of the break and went almost a minute clear with four laps to go, but Garmin-Transitions strung the rapidly disintegrating peloton in their efforts to bring the leaders back. Horner, Sorenson and Gavazzi dropped the rest of the leaders and continued to dangle off the front through the next two laps, but Svein tuft went to the front for Garmin and pulled the remaining 35-40 riders in the field to within sight of the leaders by the start of the last lap.
The three at the front were caught and Levi Leipheimer immediately attacked, going nowhere. However, Gesink's counter was more successful, and he opened a ten second gap before the top of the climb. Nine riders took up the chase, including Hesjedal, Sagan, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) and Maxim Monfort (HTC-Columbia).
It looked like Gesink would surely get caught, but the young Dutchman continued to hold off the chasers to the line, rolling in just ahead of Sagan, who outsprinted Hesjedal for second.
Hesjedal and Gesink
"I didn't think I was going to be able to hold it because I was suffering," commented Gesink. "Especially at the end when the group almost caught me. The whole last lap I doubted whether or not I could finish. I just had enough at the end. This is one of the highlights of my career, becaue I have never won a one day race before."
For Hesjedal, it was the conclusion of a successful weekend of racing in front of a home crowd, that saw him finish fourth in Quebec, third in Montreal, win the Most Aggressive award in Montreal and be the top Canadian in both events. "This has been an incredible weekend," commented Hesjedal. "I came into these races with the Number 1 bib, and I think my team helped me honour that. Racing here in front of my family, my fiance and all these people ... it has been amazing."
"When Robert [Gesink] made his move, I thought there was still plenty of race left to catch him. We had a good group to work with, but he rode a very strong race."
- Ivan Basso (Liquigas Doimo) did not start due to illness, and riders began abandoning early. In total, there were 75 abandons, and only 34 riders were left in the peloton at the end. After Hesjedal, Tuft was the top Canadian finisher, in 57th place, 4:51 back. Will Routley was the top rider for Team Canada p/b SpiderTech, in 65th place at 9:02.
- Hesjedal's fourth and third places have moved him up to sixth in the ProTour rankings, with 307 points. Alberto Contador (Astana) leads with 482, followed by Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) at 428, Cadel Evans (BMC) at 390, Gesink at 369 and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) at 307.
- Prior to the race start, UCI President Pat McQuaid officially opened the Canadian bicycle industry trade show (ExpoCycle) with CCA President John Tolkamp.
BTAC President Jean Cloutier, CCA President John Tolkamp, UCI President Pat McQuaid and BTAC Executive Director Janet O'Connell at the opening of the 2010 Expocycle Trade Show
BTAC Executive Director Janet O'Connell, , UCI President Pat McQuaid, CCA President John Tolkamp and BTAC President Jean Cloutier
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