MONTRÉAL (VN) – Friday’s tough day in the saddle at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec left many of the pre-race favorites out of contention for a spot on the podium. Heading into Sunday’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, some riders were looking for a second chance on the hillier, more climber-friendly course.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky), who was 41st in Québec — 42 seconds behind Gesink — was hopeful that the longer climbs in Montréal will work in his favor.
“Hopefully it’s a race that suits me better, more than Québec, which was very punchy,” said Froome. “I think that Montréal will be a bit more of a test, looking towards the world championships.”
Froome said the favorites for tomorrow are already well known, and was optimistic that Robert Gesink (Belkin) could pull off the Québec-Montréal double.
“I think the favorites are the guys we have seen already,” said Froome. “Gesink is going really well and I think he could certainly double. I would have thought that he had a better chance for Montréal than in Québec.”
“Sagan could still be there, if guys give him a little bit of a break and don’t mark him the way they did in Québec,” added Froome.
Gesink, who won the inaugural race in Montréal in 2010, also thought that the longer climbs — particularly the Mont Royal climb where Eddy Merckx took his third rainbow jersey in 1974 — could work in his favor.
“I’ve won there before,” Gesink said. “Montreal is even harder. It has even more climbing than here in Québec, and that really suits me.”
“It’s a tough race, and of course I will go for the win,” he added. “If you can win here [in Québec], anything is possible.”
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), the hometown favorite who was 39th on Friday, was hopeful about his chances in Montréal, and is looking to repeat — and most certainly improve on — his podium performance from 2010, when he finished third.
“Hopefully I am better tomorrow. I think Montréal is maybe better for me. I will be able to get into a more consistent rhythm than in Québec, where the climbs were short and [required power],” he said.
“I was on the podium in Montréal in 2010, so I would like to get back to that, and be at the front of the race,” said Hesjedal. “[Teammate] Fabian [Wegmann] is also going well. He was almost on the podium yesterday.”
Garmin-Sharp came into the Québec and Montréal races with a team of just six riders, and went down to five yesterday in Québec after Thomas Dekker crashed out on the second lap. Hesjedal didn’t think that it would have an impact on their chances.
“I think we managed really well yesterday. There are a lot of big riders here that want to ride, so the race isn’t on our shoulders,” said Hesjedal. “In a one-day race, you make do with what you have.”
“I think our team is a little bit more suited to the longer climbs. We’ll try to get a result,” added Hesjedal.
Like Froome, Hesjedal also thought that Gesink could win again in Montréal.
“A lot of guys are doing really well. Robert’s in good form, he won in Montréal in 2010 when I was third,” said Hesjedal. “He was strong yesterday, so he can be up there again.”
“I also think that Sagan will be a bit more motivated after missing out on yesterday. Van Avermaet is also always good. But we’ll see,” said Hesjedal, adding, “It’s always something when we race on Friday, and then the guys get a little bit of effort into their legs. It can make for a surprise in Montréal.”