Winner of the inaugural race in Montreal last year, and third in Québec, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is back and highly motivated do well this year.
“Last year for me, they were two really good races, in Québec first and then in Montreal. For me, I think these two races were the best pair I had in my career.“ Gesink said in the press conference on Wednesday afternoon in Québec.
In good form, Gesink is looking to show his worth this weekend, and fine tune his preparation for the World Championships.
“I really want to show this season that I’m still a really good rider. At the moment, it’s a season to get through. In your head you also have to work through a lost like that but still, the form is really good, the legs are good and I’m motivated to do a really good result here again this year but sometimes it’s difficult.”
The past year has been tough for the lanky 25-year old. “Last year in the fall my father died in a cycling accident, and so me personally also it was a really difficult year, some good moments and some bad moments.”
Some of those really bad moments were the crash on stage 5 at the Tour de France and its aftermath. It was a learning experience for Gesink.
“I learned it’s better not to fall from your bike if you want to do well in the general classification in the Tour.” he laughed. “We hoped that I would be better in the Alps and have good results in one of the stages but the Tour is not an easy race and it’s not easy to recover from a bad crash. I was in really good shape going into it but when something happens like that.”
Hindsight is 20-20 as he continued, “It would have been smarter to go home and focus on a different race but if I would have done that probably I would have been at the Vuelta and not have been over here. That’s always easy afterwards, but you do what is best at that moment.”
“Of course, a lot of things you have to learn from a Tour like this personally and also when things happen around you when you do less good than the day before.”
After recovering from his crash, Gesink raced at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and stayed in Colorado for some “hard training” before making his way north.
“Now I think I am in good shape, I felt good yesterday when I was doing hard training over here and the last two days I rest before the race.” he said on Wednesday.
With an extra lap added to the same circuit, Gesink is expecting a similar scenario to occur in this year’s races.
“Last year of course we had the team of Ryder Hesjedal who made the race here really hard, they already did good tempo before. I think that’s also good for me if the race is like that, a difficult race and everybody has to go almost maximum on the small steep climb over here then I think it will be more or less the same.” Gesink said about the 2010 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal where Garmin-Cervelo put in a hard tempo at the front of the race. In the end, Thomas Voeckler, then riding for Bbbox-Bouygues Telecom was able to get away from select group a few hundred meters from the finish line to take the win. He thinks the parcours offers a good opportunity for a surprise attack like that again.
While it’s possible to win the same way in Montreal, Gesink and everyone else has to contend with Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma Lotto) who has had a fabulous year and is the man to beat.
“Montreal I think is a different race, it’s really tough parcours because the climb is longer. I expect also like last year, you can attack at the right moment.” Gesink concluded. “Of course it’s possible to do it the same way but this year everybody looks at Gilbert, he’s the man for the Classics and if he can do again like he did this year, it will be very difficult to beat him.”