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"I feel good. I'm very happy to be here again. I was here already three times. It's a nice race, everybody's saying it. Very well organized. Now I don't know what I can expect."

Photo: Sirotti

GRAND PRIX MONTREAL

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GRAND PRIX QUEBEC

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08.09.2016 @ 15:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Seven years after their creation in 2010, theGrands Prix Cyclistes de  Quebec et de Montreal (GPCQM) keep attracting the very best of the world peloton, and world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Tour de France runner-up Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and former world champion Tom Boonen (Etixx - Quick Step) told a new conference in Quebec on Wednesday what made the Canadian World Tour races so special. Peter Sagan already won in Montreal in 2013 while Greg Van Avermaet twice finished on the podium and all have a past experience of performing at their best level in both races. The GPCQM are obviously even more special for local favorites Antoine Duchesne (Team Direct Energie) and Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale), both determined to do better than ever in their home events. 
 
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) :

"Quebec suits me a little bit less. But it's very challenging to have to fight it out with the best punchers in the world now sitting next to me. It's a difficult task, but I mean to do well. On a circuit as perfectly designed as this, you really want to give it your best shot to try to do a good sprint. We joined up with Hugo this morning. He's always smiling and yet very determined ahead of a race on home terrain. He's a very aggressive rider who can do well, especially in Québec. It's up to us to try and set him up as best as we can. Biometry is a very good thing. It goes in the good direction to make our sport more credible and open. But commentators will have a lot of work to explain these data and make them understandable to everybody. It's nice to be in a position to test this system in these races. I think the fact that those data are instantaneous makes it difficult for them to influence strategies."
 
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) :

"I feel good. I'm very happy to be here again. I was here already three times. It's a nice race, everybody's saying it. Very well organized. Now I don't know what I can expect. After Rio, I did a little training and then I was sick for one week after Plouay. I'm here more to train. We'll have to see how I feel in the race but I don't know what to expect. We still have a long time before the world championships. I need to race more. My schedule up to then is the European championship and the Eneco Tour. It's still far away. I might do a wheelie in crossing the line. But maybe not this year. Maybe next year."

 
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) :

"This is my second race after Rio, after Plouay. Only two races in four or five weeks is not a lot. I hope to do well here. I like Québec and Montréal, they are races that suit me. I had good results here, twice on the podium. And that's why I always come back, because I know I have good chances for a good result. It's a good race to come to after the Olympics. Maybe I'm a little bit better in Québec, I had better results here, there are shorter climbs than in Montréal. If I had to chose one, it would be Québec. It's easier for punchers to get a good result here. It's good to share the (biometric) information. It's more spectacular that people can see what we are doing."
 
Tom Boonen (Etixx - Quick Step) :

"I came to race here last year because the World Championships were in Richmond and it suited well in the calendar. I really liked the races and that's why I came back. The organization is superb with a finish 500 metres from here, and a very well organized circuit. I like to come here. Last year we tried to control the finale, maybe we will not do this again this year but if everyone finishes together, I'll try to make a good sprint. The fact that the World Championships are in Qatar is a motivation but as strange as it may seem, I would have liked them to take place elsewhere. It's very different from February. It'll be much warmer, with smaller teams, a longer distance and different winds. We really don't know what to expect with the wind. I'll stop my career after Paris Roubaix even if I win the World Championships. It would be a first and that's why I'm doing it. Paris-Roubaix is where it all started for me so it seems good to end there.
 
"I was happy when Peter (Sagan) was World Champion last year because we the Belgians did a great team race and he came from behind to beat us. He rode the race of a lifetime. I know what it means to become World Champion at his age. It made me a little emotional. Peter is just Peter. I don't think there's a leader anymore in the peloton. It's impossible. Cycling has become harder because now, there's only 30 spots for 50 guys while there was a past when there were 50 spots for 30 guys."
   
Antoine Duchesne (Team Direct Energie) :

"For Québec, we have great expectations in the team. It's a course that especially suits Bryan Coquard, who was among the best recently in Plouay. Québec is a course for punchers and the sprinters who can handle the hills have a chance to make it. We're going to stand around him. In Québec a rider like Bryan has more chances to go for victory than me. But I feel really good and I may have a card to play in the finale. If we come into the last lap in a bunch, I will have to look after Bryan as long as possible to help him win. Montreal might not be so good for Bryan and riders like Thomas Voeckler or myself might be more apt for such a course. I'm not going to wait for the final sprint. I must play it clever. On paper I'm not the favorite but there could be a good surprise. I'm going to try and listen to the advice from an experienced guy like Thomas Voeckler. He was never the favorite on paper but he still managed to make a great career thanks to his mind and his heart."
 
Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale) :

"I hope to be stronger than 12 months ago. To finish in the top 10 in Québec would be really nice. There is a really good field here and it will take a lot of hard work. But I had the chance to ride quite a lot in Europe with the team since the Olympics and I'm motivated to do well here at home. You always feel like giving that little extra something to get a good result. We have a good team with Romain Bardet and Alexis Vuillermoz, who is a puncher, good cards to play. Definitely, if I'm still in the leading group on Grande Allee, I will try to see what I have left in the legs. In past years, I struggled a bit in the last two laps. I hope I've taken on some depth since then. I hope to be an actor this time and play a role in the race."
 
RYDER HESJEDAL (TREK-SEGAFREDO):
"I made my decision to retire around July 1. I had been thinking about it in 2015 at the end of my contract as I didn't have a new contract yet. I was able to get a real nice offer to go for one more year and take another push at the Giro. Trek-Segafredo gave me that opportunity. I enjoyed it very much. But I won't be looking for a new contract. Everyone have their own reasons but I've been doing the sport for a long time, since my silver medal at the junior World Championships in 1998 just round the corner at Mont-Sainte-Anne. After that I turned professional and I have been racing for many years. I'm satisfied with what I've done. I'm ready to move to new challenges. That's it really. You have to keep hungry to survive and be in the front. These are my last races in Canada so I'm excited about it. For Québec, we have riders like Jasper Stuyven who is in great form. Usually I have a better day in Montréal (twice third). I'll continue in Europe for a bit and the Tour of Lombardy will be my last race. It will be special finishing in Italy. After that I have no plans. For now, I'm focusing on racing. I wouldn't mind contributing to cycling in the future, especially in Canada."

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