It wasn’t a surprise to see a Sky Procycling rider on the top step of the podium today at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. The surprise was that it was Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug on the top step and not his teammate and pre-race favorite Edvald Boasson-Hagen taking the win at the end of the 205-km race.
“It’s incredible. I’m taking a big step today, all this year. I have two victories already but to win a race like this is the biggest achievement I have ever done.” said Nordhaug who executed a perfect sprint.
Moreno Moser of Liquigas-Cannondale was second and Katusha’s Alexandr Kolobnev third.
Attacks flew on the 16th around the tough 12.1km circuit after the early three-man break had been caught. Through it out, Nordhaug was covering moves for his teammate while riders were being shelled off the back. On the 17th and final lap, the selection was made when around 20 riders were off the front of a splintered field.
A small respite in the attacks occurred with 10 kilometers to go as the favorites looked around to see who made the split. Boasson-Hagen, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC) had all made it, and had some teammates with them.
The breather didn’t last long. Arthur Vichot (FDJ) countered Hesjedal’s attack with 8.5km to go. The Frenchman was quickly reeled in and Van Avermaet made his dangerous move forcing Hesjedal to lead the chase. He was caught and then Nordhaug took his flyer with 5 km to go.
Nordhaug explained,, “I was riding for Edvald today and we thought it was going to be a sprint and I just tried to sit in the front and cover attacks. I just felt so strong the last three kilometers, so I just rolled off alone. But then I saw that three guys were coming, so I was waiting a bit.”
He was joined by Moreno, Kolobnev and Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM). But Leukemans couldn’t hold on to the pace and the victory was to be fought between three men while the chase couldn’t get organized in time.
Kolobnev jumped first quickly followed by Moser. But Nordhaug showed sprint tactics 101. He jumped into Kolobnev’s slipstream, then came around and zeroed in on Moser. He slipped into the Italian’s draft before accelerating with a slingshot for the win.
The 28 year-old Norwegian knew that he had won the biggest win of his career in “the last 30 meters.”
“I didn’t think I was going to take the sprint because the other guys are very fast, I had unbelievable legs today. Fantastic.”
Top 10 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky Procycling) 5:28:29
2. Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale) +00:02
3. Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha Team)
4. Simon Gerrans (Orica – GreenEdge) +00:04
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling)
6. Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
7. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol Team)
8. Rui Costa (Movistar Team)
9. Luca Paolini (Katusha Team)
10. Tony Gallopin (Radioshack-Nissan)