Peter Sagan put his Quebec disappointment behind him with an audacious solo attack 5km from the finish, hanging on to cross the line four seconds ahead of Simone Ponzi.
On the first circuit of this 17-lap race, Zach Bell (Canadian National Team), Danilo Hondo (RadioShack-Leopard), Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff), Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) formed a break that got away and by the third lap had built a five-minute gap. The peloton was content to let hold that for the first half of the race before Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Sky and Cannondale started to up the pace to reel them in. With just over 65km to go, they were down to a minute.
Just as it looked like Sky was going to boss the race, they lost Jon Tiernan-Locke in a slow-motion entanglement with OPQS’ Michal Kwiatkowski on a sharp turn. There was a furious spate of attacks until Sky regained control again, with the break fully caught at the 53km mark.
With 30km to go, Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel) took off, joined by Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Daniel Oss (BMC), Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre). They eked out a 24-second lead by the start of the penultimate lap. Then, who should appear to bridge but Alberto Contador (Saxo), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack)! This splintered the peloton, causing Cannondale’s Peter Sagan to ride solo to the breakaway, which itself only caused the break to lose heart and to be caught by a skittish peloton. The attacks were fast and furious from then on, including from Friday’s GP Quebec winner Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Chris Froome (Sky).
With Friday’s defeat fresh in his mind, Sagan was in no mood to be bossed around by anyone and he and his Cannondale team kept covering the attacks. Finally on the final lap, Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal attacked followed by Gesink, but the Slovak thought enough was enough and attacked them to quickly gain a 15-second lead. No chase was going to catch him as he pointed to his Eastern European haunches as he crossed the line in victory, ahead of Astana’s Simone Ponzi and Hesjedal.
Sagan seems to thrive in North American races. Perhaps it’s the frontier quality of these races that opens him up to perform with such flair, but with this win and his multiple stage wins in Colorado and Alberta in the past month, he’ll be coming into the World Championships with both amazing form and even more confidence than normal.
That can’t really be said for Chris Froome. He’s put on weight since the Tour (although a few good meals were probably just what he needed) and he’s given lacklustre performances throughout this jaunt across the pond. Will he be a contender for a podium finish in the Worlds? I tend to doubt it. It feels like he’s accomplished what he set out to do this year and, unlike last year where the Olympics were only a week after the Tour, the Worlds maybe are too late in the season for him to keep or regain form.
One person who will most certainly not be vying for a place on the Worlds podium is Ryder Hesjedal, who has had a very disappointing season, withdrawing from the Giro and crashing out of the Tour. He has decided to finish his season in Montreal.
1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) 5:20:07
2. Simone Ponzi (Astana) +0:04
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) same time
4. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) +0:07
5. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) s/t
6. Rui Costa (Movistar) s/t
7. Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) s/t
8. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) +0:09
9. Jon Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) s/t
10. Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) s/t