The WorldTour Canadian classic ends again in an uphill sprint
Jasper Stuyven sprinted to third in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec after the Trek-Segafredo team helped ensure a bunch finish while keeping Stuyven as fresh as possible for the harsh ending.
The Canadian classic once again proved to be for the fast uphill finishers, but the course is anything but flat, and only with teams working all race diligently, especially to bring back the antagonists in the final laps, did the punchers have their say in the end. Pre-race favorite Michael Matthews (Sunweb) proved to be the fastest, winning by a bike length over Greg Van Avermaet, with Stuyven just behind.
“It was a really nice effort, not only from Koen (de Kort) and Dege (John Degenkolb) [at the end] but also from everyone before, always putting me in good position on the hard part of the course and I could save a lot of energy and I think that paid off in the hard sprint in the end. It was nice to take my chance today and be on the podium,” said Stuyven.
Each year it’s a thrilling race, with plenty of attacks in the final laps as riders valiantly try to thwart a bunch finish, and this year Peter Kennaugh (Bora-hansgrohe) almost succeeded – solo for the last two laps, he was only caught in the final 300 meters. If the finale were flat instead of the climbs in the final kilometers, the story might have had a different ending, but as it were, the race again ended with the reduced bunch roaring into the last uphill kilometer and a tired Kennaugh only seconds ahead, the catch inevitable.
The sprinters play a patient game each year, relying on their teams to keep everything under control, which is not easy on the tricky Quebec circuit, and they had to exercise even more restraint with a headwind facing them to the line.
“In the sprint I was in the wheel of Greg (Van Avermaet) and in one moment I thought I could overtake him,” explained Stuyven, “but then also I realized it was headwind and Greg is a really strong finisher, so I decided to wait a little bit and see if I could pass him at the end, but I couldn’t. Only in the last 50 meters, I saw that Matthews was that far in front, so yeah, he did a really, really good sprint and we were actually racing for second.
“For me, it was great to see everyone committed to the plan today, and it’s nice to reward the team again with a podium in this WorldTour one day race,” added Stuyven, heaping praise on the team effort.
After one day of rest, Trek-Segafredo lines up again in Montreal on Sunday for the second Canadian classic.