It’s a simple concept seen in winter sports, like ski cross that was added to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Three racers go head-to-head on a one-kilometer course where only the fast survive to race again and again until only one remains. Introduced last year, the Challenge Sprint Pro is back with a strong fast field and will be held the day prior to the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec.
Follow @podium_live for live race updates of the Challenge Sprint Pro and the Grands Prix Cyclistes in Québec City and Montréal.
On Thursday afternoon, eight heats of three competitors will pare the field down to 16 riders, which will immediately race in four-man quarter-final sprints, and so on until the ultimate victor is crowned.
“Winning will take a combination of speed, power, skill and clever tactics. We’ll have a really high-energy sports spectacle. The ProTeams are interested in this new racing format and the media attention. Every one of them has entered a rider, and the field is truly a high-caliber one.” explained former world number one Charly Mottet, the Sports Manager of the Grands Prix.
The field of 24 competitors includes not only sprint specialists such as Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Robert Hunter (Radioshack) and Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) but also puncheurs such as Fabian Wegmann (Leopard-Trek), Jürgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale) and Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi). And let’s not forget the two Québécois, Dominique Rollin (FDJ) and David Veilleux (Europcar) and Canadian track star Zach Bell (Spidertech) who will want to shine in front of the home crowd.
The 22 teams entered in this year’s Grands Prix Cycliste will be participating in the Challenge Sprint Pro which will be telecast live.
In 2010, the Challenge Sprint format was tested with a field limited to Canadian racers, and despite clouds and rain, where a young track cyclist then with Spidertech p/b Planet Energy, Stéphane Cossette, claimed the overall win. A success, the event has already taken a huge step one year later forward in terms of the riders entered and media coverage.
It all starts with the Challenge Sprint Canada at 3pm EST on September 8 where 12 Canadian sprinters will face off on la Grande Allée in the heart of historic Old Québec City.. The top two finishers earning a berth in the Challenge Sprint Pro which starts at 4pm EST.
|Challenge Sprint Pro Roster (subject to change)|
|AG2R La Mondiale||Sébastien Hinault (FRA)||Martin Elminger (SUI)|
|BMC Racing Team||Danilo Wyss (SUI)||Alessandro Ballan (ITA)|
|Cofidis||Leonardo Duque (COL)||Samuel Dumoulin (FRA)|
|Europcar||David Veilleux (CAN)|
|Euskaltel-Euskadi||Romain Sicard (FRA)||Samuel Sanchez (ESP)|
|FDJ||Dominique Rollin (CAN)||Cédric Pineau (FRA)|
|HTC-Highroad||Hayden Roulston (NZL)||Frantisek Rabon (CZE)|
|Katusha Team||Nikolay Trusov (RUS)|
|Lampre-ISD||Daniele Pietropolli (ITA)||Grega Bole (SLO)|
|Liquigas-Cannondale||Edward King (USA)|
|Movistar Team||Enrique Sanz Unzue (ESP)|
|Omega Pharma-Lotto||Jürgen Roelandts (BEL)||Philippe Gilbert (BEL)|
|Pro Team Astana||Assan Bazayev (KAZ)||Simon Clarke (AUS)|
|Quick Step Cycling Team||Gerald Ciolek (GER)||Matto Trentin (ITA)|
|Rabobank Cycling Team||Jos van Emden (NED)||Dennis van Winden (NED)|
|Saxo Bank Sungard||Michael Mørkøv (DEN)|
|Sky Procycling||Davide Appollonio (ITA)||Jeremy Hunt (GBR)|
|Spidertech||Zach Bell (CAN)||Martin Gilbert (CAN)|
|Team Leopard-Trek||Fabian Wegmann (GER)||Martin Mortensen (DEN)|
|Team Radioshack||Robbie Hunter (RSA)||Manuel Cardoso (POR)|
|Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||TBA|