Once again, a late race attack delivered the win at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec. Two years ago, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) made his move in the final kilometer on the false flat to the finish. Last year, Philippe Gilbert (then with Omega Pharma Lotto) attacked the break multiple times in the final two kilometers until he was able to escape to victory.
This year, two riders broke away from the shattered field with three kilometers to go. On the second to last final climb, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) launched an attack on the shattered field and only rider was able to match him. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) jumped on his wheel and the two quickly got a gap.
“I was feeling good and just gave it a try,” Van Avermaet said. “Then I was alone at the top (of the climb) and only Gerrans came back to me.”
Gerrans said, “I stayed quiet most of the race and really gambled on it being back together for the final lap. I attacked with everything I had on the last lap and got away with Greg there. We worked well together and managed to held the peloton off. “
While numerous breaks were off the front, both Van Avermaet and Gerrans kept their calm, tucked in the field and waited for the 16th and final lap to make a move. The tough 12.6-km circuit had claimed victims throughout the day with some simply rolling off the course into the hotel lobby such as Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Sky). Others, such as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) were off the back. The damage was caused by the two climbs, the 375-m côte de la Montagne with an average grade of 10% and the 420 m côte de la Potasse with a 9% average grade. Not to forget the final one kilometer a false flat with an average grade of 4%.
“It’s a beautiful race, it’s my first time.” Van Amermart said. “When I saw the course on my first day here, I saw that it was well-suited to me.”
“The circuit is a tough little circuit, lots of corners. Obviously always going up and down, we started off especially fast today so it made things quite difficult so I think there were a lot of tired guys there at the finish.” Gerrans explained.
The dwindling field was back together on the final lap when the fateful attack was made. Gerrans quickly jumped and the two were away. But a chase was mounted by a dangerous rider, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Gerrans knew that Sagan was trying to bridge across. “I saw Peter really close behind us and obviously I know how fast he is so kept the break with Greg moving just to make sure that Peter didn’t get back on.”
Sagan never made it and was reeled in by a select group. The victory was to be a two-man drag race to the finish.
Around the final corner, Gerrans lead Van Avermaet towards the line. Van Avermaet opened the sprint. Gerrans came around him with enough time to celebrate his victory in Old Québec.
“I tried to be there in the sprint but it wasn’t easy. I was working the whole time and then I tried to go with 200 meters, but he came over me.” Van Avermaet commented.
Gerrans said of his win, “It’s fantastic. This is some of the hardest racing on the calendar, it’s fantastic racing here in Quebec, it’s an exciting little circuit with a great crowd, a great ambiance so I’m really happy.”
A great season for the Australian champion which started off by the win at the Tour Down Under at home in January, and his Milan San-Remo victory. He signaled his current form by finishing second in the Clasica San Sebastian in August and 10th in the recent GP de Plouay.
“ It’s always the plan to stat the season going well and finish off going well and so far it’s all going to plan.” Gerrans said with a smile.
And there’s more racing to be had. First the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on Sunday, on the tougher 12.1-km (7.5-mi) course.
Then both Gerrans and Van Avermaet will race at the World Championships.
Top 10 Results
1. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 4h53’04″
2. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team)
3. Rui Costa (Movistar Team) 4h53’08″
4. Luca Paolini (Katusha Team)
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Rabobank Cycling Team)
6. Diego Ulisi (Lampre-ISD)
7. Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar)
8. Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp)
9. Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
10. François Parisien (Spidertech p/b C10)