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Finishing off a dominant Orica-GreenEDGE showing, Gerrans was in a class of his own in the uphill sprint at the end of the GP Montreal, easily distancing Costa and Gallopin to make it two in a row in the Canadian WorldTour races

Photo: Sirotti

GRAND PRIX MONTREAL

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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RUI ALBERTO FARIA DA COSTA

RIDER PROFILE
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SIMON GERRANS

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TONY GALLOPIN

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14.09.2014 @ 23:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) became the first rider to win both the GP Quebec and GP Montreal in the same season when he took a hugely dominant win in the latter race. Finishing off an excellent team performance, he crushed the rivals in the uphill sprint, putting daylight into Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) who completed the podium.

 

Simon Gerrans confirmed his status as one of the big favourites for the World Championships when he added the Grand Prix Montreal to his growing palmares. The win comes just two days after he had taken an impressive win in the Grand Prix Quebec and his performance in Montreal was no less amazing.

 

Gerrans briefly hesitated when Rui Costa launched a strong attack the final time up the circuit’s main climb but when a 5-rider group had gone clear, he showed his cards. With a strong acceleration, he bridged the gap and when they crested the summit, a small front group had been created.

 

However, Gerrans found himself in an uncomfortable situation as he had no teammates at his side. As attacks were launched and a few riders got clear, he decided to take it easy, waiting for a big second group to rejoin him.

 

As soon as the junction was made, it became clear that Orica-GreenEDGE was in a class of their own. In the 30-40 rider group that had gathered, Gerrans was surrounded by teammates Pieter Weening, Simon Yates, Jens Keukeleire, Michael Albasini and Daryl Impey and from there, it was clear that it would come down to a sprint finish.

 

With Weening doing the majority of the work, all attacks were neutralized and so the group sped down towards the uphill finishing straight, battling for position for the final dash to the line. However, there was no one questioning the dominance of Orica-GreenEDGE as they Australian team lined out Keukeleire, Yates, Albasini, Impey and Gerrans on the front and from there they remained in control.

 

When Impey took over, he nearly gapped everyone but his teammate Gerrans and this made it look almost easy for the Australian champion. Launching his impressive sprint, he put daylight into the rest and easily held off Costa and Tony Gallopin who were involved in a close fight for the minor spots on the podium.

 

Gerrans and the rest of the peloton now turn their attention to the World Championships which starts next Sunday with the team time trial. The WorldTour resumes in the beginning of October when the riders tackle the final one-day race on the calendar, Il Lombardia.

 

A hilly circuit

The 5th edition of the Grand Prix Montreal was held on its usual 12.1km circuit that would be completed 17 times for a total distance of 105.7km. Right from the start, the riders went up the main climb, Cote Camilien-Houde before they descended to the bottom of the shorter Cote de la Polytechnique. The final part of the circuit was mainly flat but the final 500m were slightly uphill with a 4% gradient.

 

Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) attacked straight from the gun as the peloton headed up the main climb. He was joined by Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Belisol) and later Ryan Roth (Canada) and the peloton seemed to be content with that 4-rider breakaway. They had to fight a bit to get a gap but at the end of the first lap, they were 1.50 ahead.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE take control

The peloton now took it very easy and the gap grew rapidly. At the end of the second lap, it was 7.08 and at the end of the next lap, it was a massive 10.40.

 

This was the signal for Orica-GreenEDGE to kick into action and they put Christian Meier on the front. The Canadian stabilized the situation but at the end of the next lap, the escapees had still extended their advantage to 12.15.

 

The peloton splits

Mathew Hayman had now taken over the pace-setting and he started to reduce the deficit. However, drama occurred when Movistar and FDJ suddenly accelerated and caught most of the peloton off guard.

 

As a consequence, the bunch split in three groups, with the third one being the biggest. Movistar had 6 riders in the 27-rider first group and they combined forces with Trek to try to maintain their advantage. In the second group, BMC did most of the work while Meier and Hayman were working hard in the main group.

 

Katusha start to chase

At one point, the second group was 25 seconds behind the first group but the BMC work paid off and the two groups merged. Realizing that the peloton was getting closer, the group sat up and with 129km to go, it was all back together.

 

The gap had come down to 9.25 and now the race settled into a rhythm. Hayman went back to work but he quickly got some assistance from the Katusha pair of Marco Haller and Vladimir Isaychev.

 

Astana up the pace

Those three riders kept the gap stable at around 9 minutes but things started to change with 100km when Astana also started to chase. With Lieuwe Westra and Fredrik Kessiakoff contributing to the pace-setting, the gap started to come down.

 

With 90km to go, it was 7.40 and now Isaychev had had enough. 10km further down the road, Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) became the next rider to abandon the race.

 

Westra and Fuglsang ride hard

With 65km to go, the gap was 6.30 and it was still Hayman, Westra and Haller doing the work. Haller was the first rider to blow up and now Astana started to tighten the screws.

 

While Hayman blew up, the Kazakh team gathered their troops on the front and Westra was now combining forces with Jakob Fuglsang. With 50km to go, the gap was 4.40 and the gradual elimination was now intensifying.

 

Katusha go back to work

With 45km to go, Roth was dropped on the main climb but he managed to fight his way back to the front. Meanwhile, Westra had finished his work and it was now Fuglsang and Valerio Agnoli who put everyone in their hurt zone.

 

While Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was suffering at the back, his teammates went back to work as Pavek Kochetkov combined forces with Fuglsang and Agnoli. With three laps to go, they had brought the gap down to 3 minutes.

 

The break splits up

The next time up the climb, Roth and Jeannesson were both dropped and they were  brought back by the peloton as they hit the climb for the penultimate time. At this point, the Astana riders had been swamped in the fierce battle for position and as they hit the slopes, it was Ben Gastauer who upped the pace for Ag2r.

 

While Polanc dropped Vervaeke, the peloton was exploding and the selection only became bigger when Jean-Christophe Peraud took over from his teammates. Over the top it was Yates who hit the front but the peloton briefly came to a standstill as they headed down the descent.

 

Polanc is caught

Meier went back to work for Orica and he brought Vervaeke back with 15km to go, Polanc was still one minute ahead while the battle for position was now fierce.

 

Astana hit the front with Borut Bozic as they crossed the line for the penultimate time but as they hit the climb, it was Lampre who made the race hard. Rafael Valls rode hard on the front and brought his teammate Polanc back on the lower slopes.

 

Costa makes his move

While the peloton was exploding, Costa launched his attack and he was joined by Tim Wellens (Lotto), Davide Formolo (Cannondale), Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Romain Bardet (Belkin). Mollema countered but the quintet remained intact.

 

Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Gerrans and Tony Gallopin (Lotto) were the first to bridge the gap and moments later Jesus Herrada (Movistar) also made the junction. On the descent, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) bridged across while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was the final rider to time trial his way back to the front.

 

Mollema attacks

Mollema attacked with 7km to go and he was joined by Bakelants, van Garderen and Dumoulin. The rest of the group was caught by a larger group and Weening went straight to work, bring the front quartet back.

 

Simon Spilak (Katusha) attacked at the bottom of the final climb but he was quickly passed by Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Formolo, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Herrada and Costa. Weening, Bardet, Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Gallopin and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto) also joined the group but behind GreenEDGE were chasing hard.

 

With 4km to go, Albasini brought the front group back after Costa had made a final move and now Weening kept the pace high while everybody else were fighting for position. With 2km to go, the Orica train hit the front and from there, Keukeleire, Yates, Albasini and Impey delivered Gerrans perfectly to another win.

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