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Using Roux’ sprint as his lead-out, Sagan timed his sprint perfectly to catch lone attacker Uran 50m from the line and take his first win at the GP Quebec; Van Avermaet and Roux completed the podium

Photo: Sirotti








09.09.2016 @ 22:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) proved that he is back on track after his short return to mountain biking when he took a dominant first victory in the Grand Prix Quecec. In a dramatic finale, he used Anthony Roux (FDJ) as a lead-out man and then launched his sprint with 100m to go to just come around lone attacker Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) with 50m to go. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) finished second and Roux held on for third.


Going into this week’s Canadian WorldTour races, Peter Sagan played down expectations. Despite the fact that the races suit him down to the ground, he made it clear that his focus on the mountain bike at the Olympics and his subsequent illness that forced him out of the Bretagne Classic, made him unsure about his form.


However, after today’s first race in Quebec, there is no reason to question whether Sagan will be ready to go for the overall win in the WorldTour and another rainbow jersey in Qatar. With a dominant sprint on the uphill finishing straight, the Slovakian took his first victory in the race that so narrowly eluded him in 2013.


Despite his superiority, Sagan didn’t have anything under control in what turned out to be a dramatic finale. A late attack from last year’s winner Rigoberto Uran who tried to do exactly what he did last year, looked like it was going to pay off. The Colombian looked strong as he sprinted up the uphill finishing straight and as no team was able to chase, it seemed like it was going to be two in a row.


Sagan was saved by Anthony Roux who launched a long sprint and the world champion was quick to move into his slipstream. He then launched his own sprint and blasted past the fading 50m from the line, with Greg Van Avermaet hanging on for dear life for a distant second place.


The 7th edition of the GP Quebec was held on the well-known 12.6km circuit that the riders tackled 16 times for an overall distance of 201.6km. The first 9km were mainly flat but in the final 3km, the riders tackled four short climbs in quick succession. The final of those ascents was the 1km uphill drag to the finish that averaged 4%.


It was a fantastic sunny day when the peloton gathered for the start in Quebec. Immediately from the start Matthew Brammeier (Dimension Data) attacked. The Irishman got a gap before a small group with Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) joined him. Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) also made contact, and it seemed that the break was already established. Bora-Argon 18 had missed out though and immediately began to chase with the Canadian national team, who didn’t have a rider in the group either. Howeverm, they lost a bit of momentum when one of their riders hit the tarmac hard.


It was difficult to organize the chase, and therefore the gap increased to 20 seconds after 6km of racing. Hence, the national Team attempted to attack and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Nicolas Masbourian (Canada) both managed to bridge across. However, it was not enough. Another rider tried together with Reto Hollenstein (IAM) and when they were brought back, the team tried again with Matteo Dal-Cin. As he rode away, the peloton slowed down and so the lead grew to 50 seconds after 12 kilometers.


At the first passage of the finish line, the break had increased the gap to 1.10 and as the peloton still not showed initiative, it grew fast. After the second lap, they were 1.16 ahead of Dal-Cin and 4.30 ahead of the peloton which was now moving again as Christian Meier (Orica-Bike Exchange), Fabio Sabatini (Team Quick Step) and Evgeny Petrov (Tinkoff) had hit the front


Dal-Cin gave up and was caught on the third lap before Castelijns beat Masbourian in the battle for the KOM points on top of the climb. Meanwhile, a strong alliance was formed in the peloton as Adriano Malori (Movistar) and Manuel Senni (BMC) also did their share of the work. At the end of the third lap, the gap was 4.07.


On the next lap, Petrov, Malori, Meier, Senni and Sabatini kept the gap between 4.00 and 4.30 before the break again fought for the KOM points. Masbourian was smart as he let Bouwman ride away before he launched a surprise sprint to when the Dutchman slowed down. They crossed the line moments later before the peloton arrived with a deficit of 4.20


The next lap made no difference either, and the highlight was again the battle for the KOM points. This time Bouwman made no mistakes, and he easily won the sprint before they crossed the finish line with a lead of 4.18.


There was little variation in the sixth lap where it was Barta who made a small attack to win the KOM sprint. At the same time, the front group managed to increase the gap to 4.25. It was still Sabatini, Senni, Malori, Petrov and Meier doing the work.


Barta was again the fastest in the KOM sprint on the next lap where the bunch increased the speed and for the first time brought the lead down to less than four minutes. It was enough for Malori, who ended his work in his comeback race.


During the eighth lap, the gap came further down and it was only 3.30 as the peloton crossed the line again. This time it was Brammeir, who secured the victory in the KOM sprint with a small attack . On the ninth lap Masbourian was allowed to cross the line in KOM sprint first, before the peloton increased the pace, with Malori being the first rider to get dropped. At the finish line, the gap was 3.15.


Masbourian was allowed to win the KOM sprint on the 10th lap at the end of which the gap had been reduced to just 2.25. At this point Michal Kolar had taken over from Petrov in the front of the peloton. At the end of the 11th lap, it was down to less than 2 minutes and the escapees were losing ground steadily. This time Barta made a small attack to win the KOM sprint.


As they tackled the next lap, things got a lot more intense in the peloton and as they approached the climbs, the fight for position really intensified. While Barta beat Masbourian in a close sprint for the KOM points, Senni increased the pace significantly on the first climb and completely strung out the group before Marcus Burghardt took over. Surprisingly, Peter Sagan was sitting in the rear end and looked like he was suffering.


Just before the next passage of the line, Bak attacked from the front group and he started the next lap with an advantage of 10 seconds over Masbourian and 17 seconds over the rest of the break from which Castelijns and Belkov had been dropped. The peloton arrived 1.10 later, led by Joey Rosskopf (BMC).


Rosskopf brought Castelijns, Belkov, Brammeier and Agnoli back and neutralized an attack from Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM) before Sabatini, Burghardt and Senni again took over. They caught Barta while Masbourian and Pichot joined forces in an attempt to catch Bak. However, their efforts were in vain and when they were caught, only Bak was still in front.


Bak hit the climbs with an advantage of 35 seconds before Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff) led the peloton onto the slopes. Here Eros Capecchi (Astana) and Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked and they were joined by Laurens De Plus (Etixx-QuickStep). While the peloton exploded further back, Luke Durbridge (Orica-BikeExchange) brought the trio back.


Luke Rowe (Sky) made an immediate counterattack which Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) followed and the pair quickly passed Bak. As they headed up the finishing straight, there were lots of attacks and a group with the likes of Peter Stetina (Trek), Teunissen, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) and Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) took off. As they started the 14th lap, they had a small advantage but they were quickly brought back.


Rowe and Alaphilippe pushed their advantage out to 45 seconds but as Winner Anacona (Movistar) started to chase, they started to lose ground. Michael Albasini then took over for Orica-BikeExchange before the attacking started again. Tanel Kangert (Astana) was the first to try but he failed to get an advantage.


It was a huge battle for position as the peloton sped towards the climb and the front duo hit the ascents with a advantage of 25 seconds. Rowe was dropped as soon as the road pointed upwards and Alaphilippe had started his solo mission.


Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) led the chase and brought Rowe back. The Brit then took a final turn on the front before the Czech champion again took over the pace-setting to bring Alaphilippe back.


Frank Schleck (Trek) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) made a failed attack before Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Gianni Moscon (Sky) and Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) got an advantage. As they started the penultimate lap, they were joined by a small group with the likes of Fabio Aru (Astana), Michael Valgen (Tinkoff), Cyril Gautier (Ag2r), Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale), Ignatas Konovalovas (FDJ), Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie, Albasini, Rio Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar).


There was no great cooperation and so Mohoric took off in a solo move. While the rest of the group was caught, he managed to get an advantage of 15 seconds over the peloton which was led by Durbridge and Mathew Hayman for Orica-BikeExchange.


Mohoric was brought back as they hit the first climb where Christopher Juul set a hard pace for Orica-BikeExchange. He didn’t react when Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18) attacked and so the German got a small advantage.


Voss started the final lap with a gap of 18 seconds over the peloton which was led by the Orica pair of Juul and Daryl Impey. Geraint Thomas (Sky), Yoann Offredo (FDJ) and Kangert made a short-lived attack but Orica-BikeExchange quickly shut it down. At the same time, Herrada was taken out of contention by a crash.


Oliver Naesen (IAM) launched a strong attack and sprinted past Voss. As he build a solid advantage, Tinkoff were forced into chase mode and it was Valgren who hit the front to try to keep the in-form Belgian under control.


Naesen held a 5-second advantage with 7km to go where Ag2r took complete control with Julien Berard and Mikael Cherel. Sky then took over with Phil Deignan but nonetheless Naesen had increased his advantage to 15 seconds with 4km to go.


Lotto Soudal hit the front and had brought Naesen back just as they hit the first climb where Bodnar led the bunch until Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) took over. His teammate Matteo Trentin then launched a strong attack and was joined by Moscon and Alaphilippe to form a trio. Meanwhile, the peloton exploded, with Ilnur Zakarin, Adam Yates and Rafal Majka and Thomas among the riders to get dropped.


As they hit the next climb, Moscon attacked again and he immediately dropped the two Etixx riders. Alaphilippe emptied himself for his teammate and then Trentin took off in an attempt to make it back. Further behind, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) made a failed attack.


Moscon still had a nice advantage when he hit the flamme rouge but Trentin was approaching. However, suddenly Uran came flying and he sprinted past the two Italians who were both caught. As Moscon just kept riding on the front and no one had any teammates left to do the chase, it looked like the Colombian was going to take the win.


The balance tipped when Anthony Roux launched a strong attack with Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale) on his wheel. Sagan was attentive to jump into third and then launched his sprint with 100m to go. The world champion blasted past the fading Uran with 50m to go and Greg Van Avermaet could do nothing but to follow his wheel before the Slovakian crossed the line to take the win. Roux held on for third.


With the GP Quebec done and dusted, the attention turns to the second of the two Canadian WorldTour races, Sunday’s GP Montreal, where the same riders will be in attendance.



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