Escapes set the tone for exciting GP Cycliste de Montréal as BORA - hansgrohe fight from start to finish.
Relentless attacking riding made the GP Cycliste de Montréal a race to remember, with breaks from the very start setting the tone for a race that was fast-paced from beginning to end. A challenging parcours only served to make the day harder, with a long, energy-sapping climb to contend with on each of the seventeen laps. In spite of the hard day all round, BORA-hansgrohe rode strong the whole race, with Lukas Pöstlberger joining two of the day’s breaks before UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, made a courageous late attack to try to reel in the break, coming in ninth after the final break made it to the end uncaught.
The parcours took in the best of what Montréal had to offer, with a mix of stunning parkland and wide city streets over its 12.1km distance. This circuit would be ridden seventeen times over the course of the day, making for a total of 205.7km, with the profile being dominated by the intimidating sight of the 8% Côte Camillien-Houde. After making their way up this punishing ascent seventeen times, riders would have almost 4,000m of climbing in their legs – making this one of the hardest races of the whole season. While the run to the finish would be gentler, it would be a combination of good legs and good luck that would decide the day’s victor.
Teams were thrown in at the deep end, starting the day with the Côte Camillien-Houde. In spite of the alarming prospect of such a challenging climb so early on, two brave riders attacked from the firing of the starter’s gun, and quickly built up a lead approaching two minutes before extending this on the descent, and by the end of the first lap, this lead was out to four minutes. Holding on until there were less than 100km remaining, the two-man break was swept up, only for another four-man break to go soon after. This set the tone for the day – fast, attacking riding – with the peloton working hard not to allow any escapes to go too far out. Continuing the day’s theme, with 40km to go, the day’s second break was brought back in, and another went in its place – this time with Lukas Pöstlberger – the winner of Friday’s best climber prize in Québec – joining the lead group. While Lukas’ group of ten was by far the strongest of the day so far, the peloton had no intention of allowing this group to take its advantage to the finish, and once again the peloton brought them back. With two laps remaining, the racing was becoming increasingly hectic – the bunch slowly dropping riders as the day’s efforts took its toll.
Not to be denied, when yet another attack came, Lukas made sure he was in the thick of it, joining a larger group of sixteen. With only one lap to go, the peloton was keeping an eye on the escape as it began to lose riders – their number dropping down to six as the race dipped below 8km remaining. It was here the race in the peloton came to life, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, rousing the bunch to action, attacking and taking a small group of riders with him. Knowing some of the world’s best cyclists were hunting them down, the escape was spurred on, extending their advantage just enough to hold them at bay for UAE Team Emirates’ Ulissi to take the win, with Peter coming home in ninth position.
While Peter had his eye on the win, it was a lack of cooperation in the chase that denied the UCI World Champion today. "I could say that this year's Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal was a strange race. The entire BORA-hansgrohe squad put in a strong effort with Lukas Pöstlberger pulling hard to control the breakaways when needed. In the final kilometres, a small group managed to get away and build a gap from the peloton. I tried to bridge to them and bring them back but there was no cooperation from the other riders of the peloton. I wasn't going to do all the work on my own, so the gap remained until the finish and Ulissi got the win. However, that's cycling and I have to accept the result. It's time now to head back to Europe and focus on the season's final major goal, the World Championship in Norway."
BORA-hansgrohe Team Coach, Patxi Vila, was proud of how strong the entire team was both today and at Friday’s race in Québec. "It was a hard race - actually, it's much harder than it seems on TV. With a total climb of nearly 4,000 metres, it is comparable to a mountain stage of a Grand Tour! The team did their work tirelessly, just like they did on Friday in Québec. BORA-hansgrohe isn't simply a strong Peter Sagan, it is a strong set of riders to support a strong Peter Sagan. However, the other teams had their own priorities and strategies and there wasn't much more we could do. That's racing and we focus on always giving our best."