GP Cycliste de Montréal: Wellens wins Canadian washout

Tim Wellens recorded a magnificent victory at the Grand Prix de Montréal, though unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of it. Biblical rain wiped out the vast majority of television coverage from the second Canadian race of the weekend, and it was only thanks to the finish line’s static camera that we got to see him outsprinting Adam Yates to take the biggest one-day win of his career.

Four riders managed to get into the day’s long breakaway: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal), Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Andriy Grivko (Astana). However, Orica-GreenEDGE worked tirelessly on the front of the peloton for their man Adam Yates, ensuring that the escapees never managed to open out a big gap. Sure enough, they were brought back on the final lap, triggering a wave of counter-attacks on the final ascent of the Côte Camillien-Houde.

Yates and Wellens (Lotto Soudal) were stronger than the others, and soon they had a small gap of their own. Heading into the final kilometre the chasers were gaining fast, but not fast enough to make the catch. Wellens took victory, with Yates made to settle for second place.

Rider of the day

It would admittedly be hard to give this award to anyone else, given that we only got TV coverage of the finish, but the thoroughly impressive manner of Tim Wellens‘ victory means he more than merits the prize anyway. Not only did he time his attack perfectly on the final lap, he also had enough power to make up for a positional disadvantage heading into the final sprint.

In the immortal words of Sean Kelly, Adam Yates was more than happy to play the waiting game in the two-up sprint, and sat on Wellens’ wheel as the riders entered the home straight. However, he just couldn’t match Wellens for power when the Belgian turned up the gas, despite having the benefit of his slipstream. It was a win of power and intelligence, and the remarkable weather conditions will have made it taste all the sweeter. Now someone run that man a hot bath …

Three things we loved

1. The Eurosport commentary team. It’s a scenario that every cycling commentator must dread: having to fill an hour’s worth of footage of rain hitting tarmac with witty repartee. But while Eurosport commentators Matt Stephens and Magnus Backstedt didn’t quite have the poetic elegance of Test Match Special’s Henry Blofeld – a master at filling dead air at cricket matches with inexplicably captivating illustrations of pitch-invading pigeons and passing traffic – they did a more than admirable job in the circumstances, even if they needed to borrow from the day’s Vuelta footage to keep things ticking over.

2. Erm … the final stage of the Vuelta was exciting, wasn’t it(Matt and Magnus, we know exactly how you feel … )

3. The dramatic pictures. Though the peloton must hate having to ride in such awful weather (and, of course, it’s not much good for the spectator either), it must have the photographers rubbing their hands together in glee. Whether it’s the glassy reflections on the road or the absolute concentration etched onto the faces of riders, there’s something undeniably dramatic about the pictures that emerge from epic days like today. It wasn’t quite as remarkable as the mud-soaked stage of the 2010 Giro, or the snow-covered 2013 Milan-San Remo, but it was certainly still photogenic.

Result

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 5:20:09

2. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) same time

3. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) s/t

4. Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t

5. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) s/t

6. Wilco Kelderman (Lotto-Jumbo) s/t

7. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t

8. Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo) s/t

9. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) s/t

10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) s/t

Link: Official race website

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