This weekend sees the pro peloton tackle the only two UCI world tour races on Canadian soil, the GP Québec and the GP Montreal. Two of the newest races on the pro cycling calender, debuting in 2010; there has only been five editions in which to analyse how the races are going to finish. Sprinters always go into this race as main favourites, however, with a short sharp climb at the climax of each race, it’s always the puncheurs and opportunistic escapées who clinch the title.
The profiles of these two classic races are extremely similar in style, riders performing well in Québec on the Friday usually appear towards the front in Montreal on the Sunday. Both races take on numerous laps of a small condensed classic-style circuit, complete with short sharp rises and devilish false flats.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec: Friday 9th September
A short circuit of only 12.6 kilometers makes the race fast from start to finish. With it being so condensed, the short sharp drags come in almost immediate succession, not allowing the riders to rid the lactate from their legs. These climbs however, will provide an opportunity for those strong enough to launch an attack. If a rider can create a gap on one of these climbs then they can further it even more by launching themselves down the equally as sharp descents.
The final 2.5km is ultimately where this race will be decided, last year Etixx blew the race apart, first launching Alaphalipe off the main front group and then eventually Rigoberto Uran who soloed away with 1km still remaining. He just managed to hang on from a rapidly sprinting Alexander Kristoff to win by two mere bike lengths.
It is likely this year that we will see a very similar situation occur. A decimated peloton will arrive at the 2.5km to go marker, where its nothing but upwards until the finish. The group will begin to look at each other, eyeing up those wanting to take the race to a bunch sprint; some riders will profit from this and try to slip away, if the sprinter’s teams cannot chase them back down then they will very likely solo onwards to victory.
The main favourites for this race come from a wide crop of riders, Ardenne specialists and strong punchy climbers are best suited for this race, but strong men with unnaturally large engines should also be considered.
Here are a few of InsideThePeloton’s main favourites for the win:
The world champion himself finds himself the favourite for these two races. Sagan has demonstrated throughout his career that his is capable of winning in a variety of different ways. One of the strongest sprinters in the peloton, no one will be able to match him if it comes down to a bunch dash to the line. He is also a formidable escape artist with one of the largest engines, no one will catch Sagan if he is allowed to gain a gap. He can be found at 6/1 for the win with SportsBet.
Alaphallipe is another rider like Sagan that can win by a variety of means, a strong sprinter and also an excellent puncheur, he can climb with some of the best. He showed his winning ambition in this year’s Olympics, sprinting to fourth place in one of the toughest races this season. An Ardennes specialist, he will fancy his chances when the roads start to rise. If a small group come to the line then he could definitely dominate the sprint to the line. Alaphallipe can be found at 10/1 with SportsBet for the race win.
One of the fastest sprinters on this year’s start line, Matthews also has another trick up his sleeve. Strong on small climbs, Matthews has placed highly in the Amstel Gold race numerous times. He also beat Sagan in a straight sprint during this summer’s Tour De France. If he and Sagan do reach the finale together, confidence may be with the Australian, Matthews, adding another win to his ever growing palamares. Matthews can be found at 10/1 for the win with SportsBet.
Greg Van Avermaet
The newly crowned Olympic champion has chosen these two Canadian classics as his first races to return to. It is unlikely that he could hold his winning form this long but with a cunning rider like Van Avermaet, it is extremely difficult to predict whether he will go well. One of the best escape artists in the pro peloton, he will be fancying his chances on the small rises in the closing kilometers. He also possess an extremely fast sprint, beating Sagan on a couple of occasions. Van Avermaet has more than enough cards to play to win both of these Canadian classics this weekend. He can be found at 8/1 for the win with SportsBet.
Last year’s winner in Quebec, Uran is a rider that occasionally shows his face for unexpected prestigious wins. More of a GC rider than a classics specialist, most riders will not be marking him for the win. However, this will profit Uran, as it did in last year’s race and in the London 2012 road race. If he can slip away then he could certainly take another win on Canadian soil. Uran can be found at 41/1 for the win with SportsBet
My personal outside tip for this race, Fuglsang has been extremely strong this season. Usually a domestique come the grand tours, he is occasionally given leadership in the Ardenne classics where he often performs well. He is always animated in one-day classics, no matter the parcour at hand. Second place in the Rio road race this summer, he is showing somegreat form. If he can launch an attack and reach the finale with a small group, then hemay just be able to take the win in a sprint. Fuglsang can be found at 81/1 for the win with SportsBet.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal: Sunday 11th September
The route in Montreal is almost identical to that in Quebec, a circuit 12.1km in length will promote the same style of aggressive and attacking racing as Friday’s race. Fewer climbs to that in Quebec, the ones here are much longer and a little more gradual; the final slog to the line being a false flat that often sees riders sprinting at no more than 40km/hr all across the extremely wide road.
Like in Quebec, the whole race will be decided within the closing kilometers, as the race reaches its final lap, those riders hoping to win solo will try and force a selection on one of the two climbs before the finish. A decimated group will likely reach the final kilometer together with the last false flat still to contend with. The winner will not necessarily be the fastest sprinter, but in fact the rider that has managed to conserve the most energy in the finale. Everyone will be deep into the red with 1km to go, it’s who can push the furthest into this red zone that will win the race this Sunday.
The favourites for this race are the same as those for Friday’s race in Quebec, a similar route brings with it similar favourites. If one rider misses out in Quebec, then they may be looking for redemption here.
Tune into Eurosport Friday 9th September for Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Sunday 11th September for Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, for some aggressive and exciting racing in two of the final classics of the cycling season.