Peter Sagan makes solo move to win GP de Montreal
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Peter Sagan makes solo move to win GP de Montreal

by Kyle Moore at 4:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Counters every attack and makes the winning move on his own; Ponzi over Hesjedal fills out podium

Peter SaganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) got a big win to validate his month of work in North America, breaking away to earn the triumph in the GP de Montreal. Sagan did it as perhaps the most marked man in the race, countering late attacks and keeping himself in the right place, before making the winning move with 5km to go.

Sagan bridged across to a big move made by Robert Gesink (Belkin), the winner of the GP Quebec on Friday. Sagan rode away from Gesink and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), and left behind a group of race favourites, which could only consolidate as quickly as possible and try to bring the Slovak back.

But the attack was the first and only by Sagan, who pointed to his legs upon crossing the finish line. The Cannondale rider had appeared a bit tired in the finale in Quebec, but made a loud statement in Montreal. The hillier race on Sunday didn’t deter Sagan, as he indicated he just might have the legs for the hilly World Championships road course very soon.

Simone Ponzi (Astana) followed a late attempt by Hesjedal to pull back Sagan. The gap they got was enough to allow them to settle the podium, and Ponzi grabbed second place over home favourite Hesjedal.

Sagan was especially proud of win number 22 of the season.

“It was hard to win today and this makes me more and more happy” said Sagan. “Everyone wanted a tough race to select the peloton for the finale. The profile of the race was perfect for this strategy. I expected attacks in the final kilometres and my thought was the same. I didn’t want any surprises. I waited until the last climb to attack because that was the best moment to make the difference and to go on my own, and because I saw the others were a little bit tired. I felt good, I tried and I made it. It’s a great win for me and for Cannondale Pro Cycling. Two days ago in Québec I tried the same thing, now I’ve taken my revenge. For sure it was the perfect test in view of the Worlds in Florence. This is the answer I expected from these races.”

With 17 laps of an undulating 12km course on tap, riders with tired legs would be assured to settle the final. Canadian road race national champion Zach Bell, riding for the Canadian national team in the WorldTour race, put himself on display and helped spring the day’s early breakaway. Bell and Danilo Hondo (Radioshack-Leopard) got up the road along with Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff).

Two men were chasing, in Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano), and would soon bridge to make the group seven. Before the first lap had been completed, the escape was going up the road, building its lead quickly. With two laps gone, the gap was up to five minutes. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Sky Procycling were the early policemen in the peloton. With early laps ticking off, the two teams kept the seven men up front within a manageable distance, and never over five minutes.

Cannondale began pitching in as the field approached a feed zone, and the escapees were back to within four minutes. Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) began a solo chase of the seven escapees, pulling thirty seconds out on the main bunch as it took down energy. As the race reached the halfway point, the gap was down to 2’30”, with Ignatenko riding halfway between the two groups.

With under 80km to go, Garmin-Sharp took a turn on the front, with Tom Danielson helping to pull back Ignatenko on the Côte Camilien-Houde, the first and biggest climb on the 12km circuit. Sky got back to work quickly however, pulling the break back to within a minute with still more than 65km to go. Malori added some more firepower to the break after flatting out of it and facing a long chase back, but Sky remained determined.

But then Sky lost one of its major players with five laps left, when on a U-turn at slow speed, Jon Tiernan-Locke got tied up with Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). A few kilometres later, both break and main bunch began splitting under pressure. Malori was piling it on in the escape, while an attack from Dirk Bellemakers (Lotto-Belisol) inspired some chasers. Malori had pulled three others clear, and Bellemakers was quickly up to them, but Sky regained control and kept the pace up.

Through a feed zone with 53km left, the break was fully caught and the race took on the look it had at the start - a very high pace, with plenty of kilometres left and a new break trying to establish. FDJ.fr were the main protagonists as the racing kicked off again, with Yoann Offredo leading and Quebec runner-up Arthur Vichot third wheel. After a brief split, things began to settle down again. Sky’s ambitions had taken a big hit with the crash and withdrawal of Tiernan-Locke and Richie Porte. Chris Froome had been held up initially, and then was dropped again after the pace increased.

Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) got the next round of attacking underway, as the race approached 40km to go. Offredo and others pushed across to him, but the group quickly lost its impetus and drifted back to the main bunch. The kilometres ticked off quickly as modest breakaway attempts failed and teams switched off controlling the quick tempo. With under 30km to go, Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) sprung away over the top of the Camilien-Houde climb. He was joined by Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Daniel Oss (BMC Racing), Jesús Herrada (Movistar), and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol). This new breakaway hit the line with two laps to go with a 24-second lead.

On the Camilien-Houde, the action heated up again, as Cunego accelerated out of the new break, and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) put on some pressure in the peloton. Contador had Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) with him. This trio soon bridged to the riders ahead, and the peloton broke apart with the danger up the road. Sagan emerged over the top and rode solo across to the inflated breakaway. But with 18km left, the peloton had gotten it together and reeled in the break, which had lost inspiration after the bridge by Sagan.

Wellens attacked again shortly after being caught, and it was Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who sent off alarm bells in the bunch, which was lined out under the pressure from the Frenchman. When it shut off once more, Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) took off with 14km to go. Cannondale and Belkin were working in the reduced peloton to keep him close, but the Swiss rider could only pull out 15 seconds initially. A lone BMC rider was in pursuit beginning the bell lap, with Albasini 16 seconds up the road.

Gesink bounced off a Radioshack-Leopard attack on the final climb of the Camilien-Houde. The GP Quebec winner was putting the pain to Froome, who had come back, and the rest, but didn’t quite have the energy to take a gap over the top. Sagan again closed things down with Vichot and the rest just behind. With 8km to go, Froome made a brief acceleration, pulled back by a Belkin man with all the favourites present and accounted for at the front.

An attack by Hesjedal countered one by Gesink, but Sagan again covered it and then fired a shot of his own, showing surprising legs to make the attack. An eight-man group of favourites consolidated quickly to chase the Slovak, but Sagan had just the finishing climb to tackle and a 15-second lead. Hesjedal was chasing with Ponzi, but it was to no avail. Sagan had enough of a gap to survive the final uphill and celebrate the hard fought win.

Ponzi came around Hesjedal for third, and the Canadian took the final podium spot in his home country.

GP de Montreal Brief Results:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 5:20:07
2 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:04
3 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team
7 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:00:09
9 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard

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