Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal preview

The leaves are falling, the nights are drawing in and the cycling season is gradually coming to a close. But don’t weep just yet. There’s still some fantastic fast-paced action to feast upon, courtesy of Sunday’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. The race comes hot on the heels of its Québécois neighbour, and the action should be just as gripping.

The parcours

Montreal parcours 2014

  • The race is held on a 12.1km circuit around Montréal, with the riders taking in 17 laps in total.
  • Despite being a city course, this race has never been won by a sprinter. It’s a nasty, hilly parcours, with three significant climbs to help shed the pure fast men.
  • The toughest climb is the Côte Camilien-Houde, a 1.8 km ascent with an 8% average gradient. It’s the repeated ascents of this climb that will splinter the peloton. However, with the summit coming 10km before the finish line, it’s unlikely we’ll see a decisive move here.
  • The second climb comes midway through the circuit. The Côte de la Polytechnique – presumably named so because of the race’s proximity to the university – is 780m long, with an average gradient of 6% – though over a third of the climb is a nasty 11%.
  • The final ascent is the least scary, though as it ramps up to the finish line, it could be the most decisive if there’s a bunch scrapping for victory. The Avenue du Parc climb is 560m long, with an average gradient of 4%.

Fast facts

  • Because of the proximity of the two Canadian one-day classics, most teams bring the same squad to both. However, in the four years these races have been running, no rider has ever done the double.
  • The two races in Canada represent the UCI WorldTour’s only forays into North America.
  • The Canadian national team is the only non-WorldTour outfit in this year’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. They are spearheaded by veteran Bruno Langlois, who has impressed in these races in the past. Their DS is 1988 Tour de France stage winner Steve Bauer.
  • Peter Sagan won this race last year, though he won’t be back to defend his crown. In fact, there is only one former winner in the entire field, and that’s 2011 victor Rui Costa, who is using this race in preparation to defens his World Championships crown later this month.

Who to watch

Heading into the race, the bookies’ favourite is Orica-GreenEDGE’s Simon Gerrans, who won in Québec in 2012 and finished fourth in Montréal. He is part of a two-pronged attack with Swiss rider Michael Albasini, who loves such punchy parcours.

Former winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) will almost certainly be up near the front, while sprinters Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) will be hoping they’re in the front group heading into final drag towards the finish – they’re all more than capable of handling short, sharp climbs.

Other riders who excel over this terrain include cobbled classics specialist Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), former Amstel Gold Race winner Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Tour de France stage winners Blel Kadri (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) and the perpetually promising Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).

There are a handful of grand tour general classification riders present, too, including last year’s Vuelta champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), Tour de France runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), Belkin’s Bauke Mollema and BMC’s Tejay van Garderen. The shortness of the climbs means they’re all rank outsiders, but they could be in the mix heading into the final few kilometres.

Live action and highlights will be shown by Eurosport in the UK. For other coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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