By David Hunter
We continue in Canada, with the harder of the two races. 17 laps of 12.1km, covering 205.7km, and climbing for 3893m. This is a difficult race to control.
Last year, Lotto were the team who handled the horrible weather, with Tim Wellens taking the win. He’s back to try and defend his title.
The opening climb is the hardest in the two races, Cote Camillen-Houde is 1.8km at 8%. It really is a demanding climb to have in a circuit race. It’s followed by Cote de Polytechnique, 760m at 6%. The race finishes with 560m at 4%. That’s quite a lot of climbing over the duration of the race.
The best climbers hit the opening climb hard. This is where they can really make a difference and start to hurt the sprinters. Saying that, Robert Gesink, is the only true climber that has won this race. More often that not, it’s won by a puncheur. Having climbers on your team is important though, as they can hold the race together, or get your team a rider in the break.
Inside the last 4 laps, the race begins. Each lap is harder than the one before, then, all hell breaks loose on the final lap. A small group usually gets away and can stay away till the end. With the pack diminished behind, most riders don’t have teammates. If you have two left, your team is in a great position.
Peter Sagan – despite suffering on Friday, he still won the race. He really is an incredible rider. He’s won here before and will start as the favourite. He looked like he went pretty deep in Quebec, so, he might pay for that here.
Michael Matthews – will have been disappointed to only finish 5th in Quebec. With the extra climbing, this race should suit him better. Orica have a strong team and know how to win this race.
Tiesj Benoot – looked good in Quebec and this race is much more his style. With Wellens being used as a long range attacker, he should be saved for the final lap. Do not underestimate his sprint, the boy is fast!
Greg Van Avermaet – I would normally think that this race is too hard for Van Avermaet, but given his 2016 form, that is a silly comment! After just missing out in Quebec, he’ll be motivated to take the win.
Julian Alaphilippe – attacked way too early in Quebec, a sign that his form is not there. I doubt he’ll turn it around here.
Rui Costa – another good race on Friday. The Lampre rider is a big fan of the Canadian races, they suit his style. With him and Ulissi, Lampre have two good options.
Bauke Mollema – showing some solid recent form. 8th in Quebec was a good result, I expect another top 10 here.
Tim Wellens – knows how to retain a title, he did it in the Eneco Tour. I’m looking forward to seeing how Lotto use their young stars. Wellens needs a little patience in this race, hopefully he waits for the 2nd last lap before launching his attack.
Rigoberto Uran – was good seeing him attack in Quebec, he almost pulled off the same move twice! The Colombian is a good one day racer and gives Cannondale a big chance of taking a win.
Looks like everyone versus Sagan, something he’s used to. I think that Friday will have taken a lot out of him, leaving the door open for Michael Matthews to take the win, from a small bunch.
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