Simon Gerrans takes breakaway sprint victory in GP Québec
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Simon Gerrans takes breakaway sprint victory in GP Québec

by Ben Atkins at 4:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Australian champion outpaces Greg Van Avermaet on false flat finishing straight

simon gerrans Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) won the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in a two-up sprint in the capital of French-speaking Canada. The Australian champion outpaced Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) after the two of them escaped on the climb to the Côte de la Montagne on the final lap of the race with just four kilometres to go, and managed to hold off a late charge from Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

"It's fantastic to win today," said Gerrans. "This is some of the hardest racing on the calendar. It's fantastic racing in Québec on an exciting circuit with great crowds and great ambience."

Sagan was swept up by the front of what remained of the peloton in the closing metres, with 2011 GP Montréal winner Rui Costa (Movistar) winning the sprint for third.

"This circuit is a tough little circuit," Gerrans said. "There are a lot of corners. It's always going up and down. We started out especially fast today and made the race quite difficult. There were a lot of tired guys at the finish.
"I stayed quiet most of the race," he added. "I really gambled on it being back together for the last lap."

The 201.6km race, which was run over 16 laps of a hilly 12.6km circuit around Québec’s old city, saw several breakaways, with an eight-man group managing to get more than six minutes clear in the first half. As the peloton steadily pulled it back however, the group steadily shrank on the tough parcours, and was caught on the Côte de la Montagne with just over two laps to go.

There then followed several dangerous counterattacks, but the race was all together as it arrived at the foot of the climb for the final time. Van Avermaet put in a stinging move, but he was caught by Gerrans before he reached the top, and the two of them rode to the finish together.

Sagan attacked from the peloton behind the two leaders, and was hauling them back in the final kilometre; it was ultimately too much for the Tour de France green jersey however and, as Gerrans sprinted for the win, he was caught by the chasing pack.

Breaks coming from all over on the hilly circuit

Canadians Martin Gilbert (Spidertech p/b C10) and Sebastian Salas (Canadian National Team) attacked from the gun, but it was on lap two that the first serious break got away, when Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale), Maarten Wynants (Rabobank), Bart Dockx (Lotto-Belisol), Stefan Denifl (Vacansoleil-DCM), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), and Enrique Sanz and José Ivan Guttierez (both Movistar) escaped.

They were soon joined by Sébastien Turgot (Europcar), Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Manuele Mori (Lampre) et Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) but, before they could get far ahead, more and more riders joined from behind. The group was now too big to to work and the race all came back together after 45km

Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) then escaped after 54km, and were quickly joined by Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Tom Leezer (Rabobank) and Lucas Euser (Spidertech p/b C10).

Before the five riders had got far Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Hugo Houle (Spidertech p/b C10) and Marsh Cooper (Canadian National Team) bridged across to them to take the break’s numbers up to eight. The peloton was seemingly happy with this composition and, within six laps, the breaks lead had been allowed to grow to 6’10”.

At this point the Europcar team of 2010 race winner Thomas Voeckler and the Garmin-Sharp team of Canadian Giro d’Italia champion began chasing, and this gap began to steadily drop. Close to the end of the tenth lap, after 120km, Casar was dropped by the lead group and, across the line with six laps to go, the remaining seven leaders were ahead by just 3’25”.

In the next two laps the gap continued to drop and, with the lead down to less than two minutes, Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), Anthony Charteau and David Veilleux (Europcar), Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) tried to cross it. Close to the end of the 13th lap though, Gusev accelerated on the Côte de la Montagne, which dropped Houle, then Cooper and Rohregger.

The break was down to just four, with only Wyss, Leezer and Euser able to follow the Russian.

The peloton soon caught all of the chasers, and the dropped riders, but Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ-BigMat) counterattacked, with Charteau chasing his compatriot. Soupe soon left Charteau behind, but his own attack wasn’t to last long as the peloton was bearing down on the riders ahead of him.

With 30km to go the four leaders had just 15 seconds over their pursuers and, as they hit the Côte de la Montagne with just over two laps to go, Wyss was the first to give up, shortly followed by the other three.

One break comes back as another one goes

Immediately Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) attacked, with Bruno Langlois (Canadian National Team) and, as they crossed the line with two laps to go, they were 22 seconds clear.

Jérôme Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Christophe Kern (Europcar) attacked late in the lap to try to get across to the two leaders, but they were caught before the climb. Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) then countered, pulling German champion Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and several others clear.

This group caught Sørensen and Langlois with a kilometre to go in the lap but, as the peloton began to sweep them up, Devenyns pulled Sørensen clear as they crossed the line.

With 11km to go the two of them were 20 seconds clear. There were several attempts to bridge to them, including big moves from Veilleux and Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) but the chasers were getting organised behind them. Movistar, then Orica-GreenEdge and BMC Racing steadily pulled them back and they were caught with four kilometres to go, just as they arrived at the foot of the Côte de la Montagne.

Van Avermaet attacked almost immediately, and Gerrans chased him down and joined with three to go. Behind them Sagan was leading the chase; Nordhaug tried to attack across the gap, followed by Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), but Sagan jumped past both of them in an attempt to catch the two leaders.

"I attacked with everything I had and got away with Greg," explained Gerrans. "I saw Peter was really close behind us, and I know how fast he is. I kept the break with Greg moving to make sure that Peter didn't get back on."

Sagan was gaining, but the two leaders were resisting as the passed under the flamme rouge with one kilometre to go. Gerrans was now leading and, as he looked over his shoulder to gauge whether Sagan would catch them, Van Avermaet was reluctant to come around him.

With 200 metres to go though, the Belgian finally made his move, but Gerrans was straight on his wheel and easily won the sprint to take his first victory since Milano-Sanremo in March.

Costa won the sprint for third from the beleaguered peloton, just four seconds later, as Sagan was swept up on the line.

"We just managed to hold them off," said Gerrans. "I'm happy to have pulled off the win. It's a great feeling to be riding strong at the end of the season."

Result Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 4s
4. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
5. Tom-Jelter Slagter (Ned) Rabobank
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
7. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
8. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
9. Gerard Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. François Parisien (Can) Spidertech p/b C10


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