2022 GP de Québec – Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

The peloton has made it back to Canada, several years after the last occasion before Covid-19 and the travel difficulties brough the two Canadian classics to a halt. Friday will be GP de Québec day, the first of two hilly classics, however this one more explosive and suited to the sprinters who can climb.  

The Route

The route will feature a total of 204 kilometers, which are divided by 16 laps, each with just under 13 kilometers in distance. There are 2400 meters of climbing in what is an all-day rolling road race, as each lap contains three small hilltops to face.  

The first half of the circuit sees the riders descend from the center of Québec down into the river for the first five kilometers, and then throughout the next four there will be a pan-flat section where the teams will, in each lap, reorganize and look to position their leaders into the difficult part of the race.  

The first little ascent features 300 meters at 8.3% – the Côte de la Montagne – and finished with 3.5 kilometers to go, on the final lap of course. A very short but fast downhill section follows before the second kick up which will be the Côte de la Potasse which is 400 meters long at 6% and finished with just 2 kilometers to go.  

The road briefly flattens before the final grind into the line, which will feature 1.1 kilometers at 4%. Not deadly gradients, but some that can see late attacks succeed, can suffocate some sprinters, and will also make a big difference when it comes to the energy the riders will have into a final sprint.  

The Weather

The wind should be rather non-existant, and the temperatures around 25 degrees. Nothing out of the ordinary.  

Tactics 

This is a race that can be seen as one to be attacked from far, and although that may happen, long-distance attacks never succeed here. That comes down to a very important factor which is the final kilometers’ three explosive sections where it is possible to attack and/or surprise – which eliminates a big need to attack early – but most importantly the flat run-up to them.  

The circuit is fast, but before the climb is a 4-kilometer flat and straight section where there will be a colossal fight for positioning. Everyone will try to enter as close to the front as possible, meaning any attack that is out in front will inevitably loose time. The race is not that selective, hence teams should also have the firepower to chase. Due to the race’s hilly nature and large field of high-quality riders, it should also be quite likely to see many teams interested in chasing. Whether the race will be decided in a sprint or a late attack however is something that can only be discovered in real time.  

The Favourites 

The main men to take into consideration in this race are the sprinters who can climb. Straight to the point, this is a race perfectly suited to both Wout van Aert and Michael Matthews, and both teams should be willing to sacrifice their whole teams to control the race and have a sprint decide the outcome. Although these are the most likely, they also find competition in the incredibly high-level rivals such as Biniam Girmay, Alex Aranburu and Magnus Cort Nielsen who all individually are capable of beating world-class competition. Although he is past his prime, it is relevant to mention Peter Sagan as he is a two-time winner of the race, and also Giacomo Nizzolo who comes with a focus on this race and the UCI points.  

On the opposite side of the spectrum you have the climbers. Of course, not pure climbers, as the startlist includes a wide array of light riders who also enjoy the explosive terrain, and although they may favour Montréal, they definitely stand a chance here. UAE for example bring in Tadej Pogacar, but also past winners – in Montreal – such as Diego Ulissi and Rui Costa who have recently shown great form and are perfectly suited to both races. Other teams bring in great depth such as INEOS with Adam Yates, Daniel Martinez and Geraint Thomas being all possible cards to attack the race from early on, and also Bahrain-Victorious with Pello Bilbao, Jan Tratnik and Matej Mohoric. These teams are essentially obligated to attack seeing as they can benefit from their depth.  

The French will also be very well represented with Romain Bardet, David Gaudu and Guillaume Martin all present, although all will favour Sunday’s race. The same can be said of Jakob Fuglsang and Ruben Guerreiro, but the finale is quite open and many will look to surprise the competition on the uphill gradients.  

However Québec is not only a race for the riders with specific specialities. You have some pure puncheurs such as Benoit Cosnefroy, Neilson Powless and Alberto Bettiol who can be very dangerous, but the rouleurs and classics specialists can also surprise – not only with late attacks, but many of them even with their sprinting capabilities. The likes of Greg van Avermaet, Alexander Kamp and Sep Vanmarcke are all riders capable of sprinting who will prioritize this race, for example.  

Mauro Schmid and Mikkel Honoré who will lead Quick-Step, Soren Kragh Andersen, Warren Barguil and Sylvain Moniquet are all outsider for the race aswell, with the legs to take a very strong result on their best day.  

Prediction Time 

⭐⭐⭐WV.Aert, Matthews 

⭐⭐Girmay, Aranburu, Pogacar, Bilbao, Bettiol 

Cort Nielsen, Martínez, Tratnik, Cosnefroy, Guerreiro, Vanmarcke, SK.Andersen  

A win for Wout van Aert. It’s an open race, with countless riders who can take the win, and it won’t be easy to control. However I’ll go with my logical thought and trust a reduced sprint, and I believe it will be very hard for anyone to be able to counter the power of Wout van Aert.  

Rúben Silva

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