Simon Gerrans became the first rider in history to complete a ‘Laurentian double’ on Sunday, as he added the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal title to the one he picked up in Québec a couple of days ago. The Australian is now undoubtedly the hot favourite heading into the Road World Championships in Spain later this month.
A stubborn escape
Four riders escaped in the day’s main breakaway: Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Belisol) and Ryan Roth (Canada), and they swiftly opened up a big gap over the bunch. At its greatest, the advantage was over ten minutes, with the peloton happy to gradually turn up the heat over the second half of the race. However, they may not have been expecting quite such a stubborn quartet out front.
Despite the efforts of Astana, Katusha and Orica-GreenEDGE, the breakaway still held the best part of three minutes over the bunch heading into the final two laps. Fortunately for the chasers, the escape began to fracture under the pressure on the penultimate ascent of the nasty Côte Camilien-Houde. Roth and Jeannesson were dropped, and within a few minutes only Polanc survived out front.
His resistance was strong but ultimately futile. As the final lap begun, the peloton accelerated, driven on by attacks from the race favourites, and with 10km remaining things were all back together again at the front. There was to be no miraculous solo victory.
Orica-GreenEDGE crush the field
The first attack came from World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), who managed to form a select group of ten riders, including the likes of Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) in tow. However, hesitation led to disorganisation in the lead group, and they were quickly reabsorbed back into what remained of the peloton.
Costa kicked again with 5km left, though no matter how hard he pulled, the elastic wouldn’t snap. By now, GreenEDGE had managed to organise themselves into a perfect sprint train on the front of the bunch, and their engine Pieter Weening was letting nothing escape off the front. The undulating course had been enough to dislodge the vast majority of lead-out men, leaving Gerrans with a massive advantage heading into the final couple of kilometres.
There’s no doubt that GreenEDGE have been specifically targeting these races for quite a while, and the team they brought to Canada was perfect for the job. The likes of Weening, home hero Christian Meier, Jens Keukeleire and Simon Yates are all excellent over this kind of hilly terrain and, had he not been cast in a sacrificial role, Michael Albasini would’ve been a serious contender in his own right. They were by far the strongest team in the race, and their strong selection paid dividends with an emphatic victory.
Gerrans leaped from his train and launched his sprint inside the final kilometre, quickly motoring away from the rest of the field. He crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of runner-up Costa, while Lotto-Belisol’s Tony Gallopin continued his impressive season by rounding out the podium.
Race in numbers
1 – Simon Gerrans has become the first man to ever win both Canadian WorldTour races in the same year.
3 – Gerrans‘ victory has seen him leap into third place in the UCI WorldTour rankings. He’s now behind only Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde.
33 – The win is Orica-GreenEDGE’s 33rd of the season, pulling them level with Movistar. Only Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Giant-Shimano have been more prolific.
1. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) 5:24:27
2. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) same time
3. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) s/t
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) s/t
5. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t
6. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) s/t
7. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) s/t
8. Jonathan Hivert (Belkin) s/t
9. Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) s/t
10. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) s/t
Links: Official website, cyclingnews.com
Header image: Simon Gerrans takes the (GPCQM/Twitter)