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"A lot of the guys are going to be on breakaway duty and chase the KOM points in both races. But we hope that in the final three km, one of us will stay with the best guys and, fingers crossed, that one of these guys can make it in the...

Photo: Sirotti




09.09.2016 @ 00:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal (GPCQM) President Mr Serge Arsenault made it quite clear: "No one can tell who is going to be on the podium in Quebec."
The two Canadian legs of the cycling WorldTour always had a remarkable entry list but rarely such a depth of talent among the 21 teams of eight riders at the start. It would be tempting to go for the usual suspects and look for the riders with a history of success in Quebec and Montreal. Winner in Montreal in 2013, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) has since emerged as the most formidable one-day racer in the world but the reigning world champion has had a long season and has been hampered by sickness in recent weeks. He himself admits his form is a big question mark. The same applies to some of the other big names in the race. Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) has raced very little since his gold medal in Rio and is at a loss to tell how strong he would be and whether he can at least emulate his past two podium places in Quebec. Last year's Quebec winner Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale - Drapac Pro Cycling Team) has not done much in recent weeks, unlike Montreal titleholder Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who won the Tour of Poland last month. Portugal's Rui Costa (Lampre - Merida), the most consistent performer in the seven-year-old history of the GPCQM, has not been at his very best this season. France's Thomas Voeckler (Team Direct Energie), winner of the inaugural Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in 2010, or Canadian favorite Ryder Hesjedal (Trek - Segafredo), are on a farewell tour and maybe a little too old now to be real challengers.
What about the stars of the last Tour de France? Runner-up Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) of France made it clear he was keen to do well but will probably be more at his ease in Montreal after finishing twice in the Top 10 there. The same can be said of Britain's Adam Yates (ORICA - BikeExchange), 4th in the Tour, who was second in Montreal a year ago. Safer bets for Quebec are maybe to find outside the nominal team leaders. In Bardet's AG2R La Mondiale team, puncher Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) could do well. In Uran's Etixx-Quick Step outfit, the rider with the best profile for the old capital's course is undoubtedly French prodigy Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - Quick Step), if he has not ridden a bit too much this season. And in Yates's ORICA (BikeExchange) ranks, Australia's Michael Matthews, second last year on Grande Allée, will not be too far from the podium. Others, like gifted sprinters Bryan Coquard (Team Direct Energie) of France or Jasper Stuyven of Belgium will be eager to show themselves to convince their respective national selectors for the worlds. 
Canadian hopes will rest on the shoulders of ambitious local heroes Antoine Duchesne (Team Direct Energie), Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale) but also Cannondale-Drapac's Mike Woods and the national team picked ahead of the world championships in Qatar.  
Team Canada's sports director Kevin Field presented the team of eight Canadian riders selected for the GPCQM at a news conference on Thursday and said he was aiming at seeing one of them finish in the Top 10 in either Québec or Montréal.  


Below the Canadian national team outline their goals:

Kevin Field (team director): "All the guys are part of the world championships selection pool. They will be in Qatar for the worlds. We've picked them around these objectives. All our best under-23 and elite riders are here as part of the world championship process. We want to thank Serge Arsenault and Marcel Leblanc for giving this opportunity to the Canadian national team to ride at the best level. It's a unique opportunity for us, a springboard for the success we have seen in the last two years to position our under-23 for the worlds. We also come here to Quebec with a lot of optimism. These are difficult races and we're under no illusion it's going to be an easy race. But we can actually plan and expect a good result if things go really well and get a top 10 placing. It's also a chance to gain experience and show ourselves and show the country in front of the public. A lot of the guys are going to be on breakaway duty and chase the KOM points in both races. But we hope that in the final three km, one of us will stay with the best guys and, fingers crossed, that one of these guys can make it in the top 10."  
Bruno Langlois (Canadian champion, six participations): "For sure I'm really proud to hold this (Canadian champion) jersey. It means that I will probably grind my teeth a little more. It's a little extra pressure. I'm here to help the team with my experience. I'm just back from a rather serious injury (broken collarbone). The shape is good but I will see lap after lap. If I see that I'm a little tight I will help Ben and Guillaume obtain a good team result. My chances to take part were slim. It gave me even more motivation to work hard. I did the best I could. We'll see tomorrow it the results are there."
Benjamin Perry (Three times Canadian under-23 champion, three participations): "For me and Guilllaume, the finale suits us well. Riders like Bruno have good experience and they'll be perfect for going in the breakaways and go for longer shots. If Im well positioned in the finale, I can look for the top 10."
Guillaume Boivin (Two times Canadian champion, 5 participations): "Physically, it's a little bit hard to tell. The last ten days, I worked really hard with Bruno. I didn't want to come here in mediocre form. I wanted to honor my selection, I didn't want to look ridiculous. With those ten days of training, my form is not too bad. I'm above all glad to be here. I thought my season was over (triple shoulder fracture), it's almost a miracle to be here. We have a good team with a few guys discovering the race. I'm also here to bring my experience. We're going to try to have a good race with the team we have."
David Drouin (1st participation): "I'm really happy to be here, to take part in two races I have been watching for the last six years. This time, I'm in and I'm going to give everything to make sure the team gets a top 10. In Alberta, it was great fun, I gave it my all. I was a little it short of gas towards the end but I tried. I'm going to try and go in the early breaks. I believe Montreal suits me better. I think Camillien-Houde can help the breakaways last. If I stay in the bunch, it will be hard to get a result."
Matteo Dal-Cin (one participation): "I would imagine that I'm going to be one of the guys going in the early breakaways to represent Canada there and get some KOM points. My personal goal is to improve on my ride in 2014. As a rider I want to perform better than the last time."
Alex Cataford (two participations): "I had a good race in Alberta. I have been training specifically for these races. The most important is to be racing well as a team and if anyone gets in the top 10, it will be a success for everyone. We have to have one guy up there, whoever it is on the day."
Nigel Ellsay (1st participation): "Alberta went well for me. I'm in pretty good form. Alberta was pretty much like a one-day race, full gas all day. It's an opportunity to be in my first World Tour race and gain exposure from the race. I hope we have the best day we can."
Nicolas Masbourian (1st participation): "I'm really glad to be here. My goal is to acquire as much experience as possible and to help the guys get a good result. We have the chance to have guys in the team who rode those races several times. It's a unique opportunity to ride in front of the family in Quebec and Montreal."



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