Grands Prix Cyclistes Riders to Watch
Grands Prix Cyclistes de Quebec et Montreal Riders to Watch
For the seventh year in a row, the riders of the World Tour descend on Montreal for the Grands Prix Cyclistes, Canada’s premier one day races. With exciting courses on some of the most picturesque (and oldest) streets in North America, the Grands Prix Cyclists de Quebec and Montreal have taken a firm grasp on their late season spot on the calendar and are frequently used as a final tune up for the World Championships.
All the big teams will be present in Montreal and Quebec with many of the world’s top riders taking to the start line. With courses that are too challenging for the pure sprinters but not hilly enough for the climbers and often reward the brave, the Grands Prix Cyclistes have been the hunting grounds for the world’s best puncheurs and this year will be no exception.
Riders to Watch
Two names jump off the start list as clear favorites: Olympic Gold medalist Greg Van Avermaet and World Champion Peter Sagan. Formerly the almost man of the one day races, Van Avermaet has overturned that reputation this season with big wins, most notably a fantastic win in Rio to take Olympic Gold. He has previously finished 2nd and 3rd in Quebec making him a good pick to take the win this year. World Champion Peter Sagan is up to his usual tricks, picking up big wins this season to do away with thoughts of the curse of the rainbow jersey. His brave and eccentric riding style has netted him 9 wins this season and his 4th consecutive Green Jersey at the Tour de France. Sagan previously won the GP Montreal in 2013 and should be considered among the favorites in every race he starts.
Etixx-QuickStep will have two cards to play in Canada with young Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe looking a good pick for Quebec and veteran Tom Boonen having a shot at the win in Montreal. Alaphilippe showed his potential last season before mono derailed his progress but he is right back at in 2016 with a 2nd place finish at Fleche Wallone and a 4th place finish in the Olympic road race. Despite getting up there in years, the 36 year old Boonen has shown he still has what it takes. He won the Ride London Classic last month and just missed out on a record setting win at Paris-Roubaix having to settle for second instead.
Like Etixx-Quickstep, Lampre-Merida will have two options for the Grands Prix Cyclistes. For Quebec, Lampre-Merida will put their support behind Diego Ulissi who finished 5th last year. Ulissi won 2 stages of the Giro d’Italia this spring and ranks among the best puncheurs. Former World Champion Rui Costa won the GP Montreal back in 2011 and has never failed to finish outside the top 10 at the race since.
Other riders to watch include Orica-BikeExchanges Michael Matthews who finished second in Quebec last year and is always a good pick for races that finish in a reduced bunch sprint. Last year’s winner of the GP Montreal, Tim Wellens, can not be forgotten and good be rewarded for his bravery once again.
A number of Canadians will take to the start line at the Grands Prix Cycliste as part of their trade teams as well as a composite Team Canada. Michael Woods of Cannondale-Drapac is the most likely to have any sort of impact on the race. The punchy climber should have enough to stick with the favorites over the final climbs put lacks the finishing power to contest the sprint.
Trek-Segafredo’s Ryder Hesjedal comes to Montreal and Quebec as part of the 2012 Giro d’Italia champion’s farewell tour. Local boys Hugo Houle (FDJ) and Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) also take to the start line in their home province as domestiques for their team leaders.
The Team Canada roster is highlighted by national champion Bruno Langlois (Garneau-Quebecor), Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling), and Guillaume Boivin (Cycling Academy). The rest of the team is made up of Alex Cataford, Matteo Dal-Cin, Nigel Ellsay, Nicolas Masbourain, and Ben Perry, all of Silber Pro Cycling. Team Canada will unlikely have an impact on the outcome of the race but will do their best to show off the maple leaf in any breakaway.
I will be on the ground in Quebec and Montreal this weekend and will be bringing you plenty of content from the Grands Prix Cyclistes.