GP Quebec 2016 preview

By David Hunter

Quebec 201.6km

quebec

Racing returns to North America, with the usual double header in Canada. First up, it’s Quebec. The riders tackle 16 laps of the circuit, that features three climbs. The Cote de la Montagne is 375m at 10%. We then have the Cote de la Potasse, which is 420m at 9%. Then it’s the grind up to the finishing line, 1km at 4%. It’s a relatively straightforward circuit, but the climbs make it interesting for most types of rider.

Tactics

Like all circuit races, there is a gradual process of dropping riders from the bunch. The main action starts with around 5 laps to go and we see attacks on every climb. The climbs are short, so riders sprint up them, hoping to put some of the fast men into difficulty. This happens over and over again, until the elastic snaps and a small group gets away. There is usually enough strength in the bunch to bring it back together, but the last lap is a complete lottery.

It is possible to break the sprinters, but that is usually due to a lack of cooperation in the bunch. Teams send domestiques to the front and hit the climbs hard, putting the peloton into one line. Team leaders come to the fore in the last two laps, looking to try and get away in a small break. It is possible to stay away, it just depends on who is left to chase.

Contenders

Michael Matthews – “won” the bunch sprint for 2nd in 2015. This is the type of race that really suits the Aussie, given his incredible climbing ability. He has a solid team with him, everyone of them will be important. Being a sprinter, you really do need another three men for the final lap. Two to control the early part and one to lead it out, up to the finish. Matthews will start the race as one of the favourites.

Peter Sagan – like Matthews, this is a great race for him. Was here in 2014, but blew up in the sprint. That was a huge surprise, but the 2016 version of Sagan is a different beast all together. If he has recovered from his recent sickness, he’ll be a hard man to beat.

Tiesj Benoot – has endured a tough time recently, with injuries and illness. Now back to full health, Bennot, is starting to pick up some results. His 7th place in Brussels was an indication of what’s to come. He’s looking to be in top shape for the European Games and this is a good reference point for him. The finishing grind is great for him, but he knows he can’t outsprint Sagan and Matthews. Expect the youngster to attack near the end.

Greg Van Avermaet – the Rio golden boy loves this race. In the last four years he finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th. He is desperate to win and he doesn’t have the luxury of waiting till Montreal, on Sunday. This is the race that suits him best. Watch out for him launching some huge attacks in the last couple of laps. He can maintain an uphill sprint for longer than most.

Julian Alaphilippe -likes racing on this side of the Atlantic. His last win was in the Tour of California, but he was very close in the Tour de France and finished 4th in Rio. Alaphillipe is a sensational rider and he arrives with a ridiculously strong team. I think they will let him attack when he wants, as they have some sprinters left if it comes back together. A great climber, with a fast finish, he will go close in this race.

Tom Boonen – given his recent run of form, it would be foolish not to include the King of Belgium. He has really found his sprinting legs again, taking wins in Ride London and Brussels Classic. The hills won’t bother him, but if he does get dropped, Etixx can turn to Matteo Trentin. Having so many options does put Etixx in a strong position.

Wilco Kelderman – this should be a good race of the Dutchman. He is good on explosive climbs and packs a fast sprint, for a climber. He would need to get away in a small group, if he wants to take the title.

Rui Costa – the exact same can be said of Rui Costa. He has looked very strong recently, constantly on the attack in the recent one day races. Lampre also have Ulissi, but Costa will be their number one.

Simon Geschke – an underrated rider. Geschke is usually seen working for others, so I’m delighted he arrives here as the Giant leader. He can climb and sprint, two qualities that will take you a long way in Quebec.

Prediction Time

This is a tough one to call, as Sagan and Matthews are much faster than anyone else. This will make the other teams constantly attack and I’m not sure if Tinkoff and Orica will be keen on doing lots of work. I see a small group getting away on the final lap and Greg Van Avermaet taking a long overdue win in Canada.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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