Canadian amateur Cody Canning least expected to win the Sprint Challenge Pro when he lined up against some of the top riders in professional bike racing but that's exactly what he accomplished. The Edmonton, Alberta, native out-sprinted and out-smarted Team Europcar's Bryan Coquard and Garmin-Sharp's Steele von Hoff in the short sprint held along the Grande Allée in Quebec City.
"These sprints were a combination of how hard you can jump, how much you can maintain it and how well you can position yourself," Canning told Cyclingnews. "I'm really happy with how I rode it and to win it."
The event was held on the eve of Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec City, the first of two WorldTour races held in the Canadian province of Quebec, with the second event at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on Sunday.
The Canadian team stacked the field with six riders across the six opening heats but they faced the likes of international talents Coquard, who took seven top 10s at the Tour de France and third overall in the points classification. Along with other seasoned riders like von Hoff, Chris "CJ" Sutton (Team Sky), Jens Kuekeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Hayden Roulston (Trek Factory Racing) and Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar).
"This is a totally different event than the kinds of races that a rider like Bryan Coquard was doing all year," Canning. "I think this event does give riders some attention and it allows us to show how hard of a jump we have, and it shows the potential ability to finish off a road race"
Canning, 26, races for Accent Inns/Russ Hay's Cycling Team p/b Scotiabank, an amateur level team out of Victoria, BC. He rarely competes outside of Canada, with the exception of a few events south of the border in Washington and Oregon. His top result this year was winning the provincial BC title and the Canadian National Sprint Challenge, held in Lac-Mégantic earlier this summer, which showed a good indication that he had the potential to do well in the Québec City event.
"I had done this type of sprint event at nationals and it was good preparation for today because it was a similar race," Canning said. "I got a feel for how I like to ride in these types of races.
"I did one workout for this, to try and get my sprint going. I think that most sprinters naturally have that jump and work on their endurance so that they are able to use it."
Canning attributes his success in the street sprints to a combination of smart positioning and speed, two key factors that he clearly had a firm grasp on as he went on to win the final street sprint against Coquard, von Hoff and fellow Canadian Eliott Doyle.
"Bryan seemed to like to sprint from behind and I figured that was the best way anyway because I don't think I would have been able to come around him if he had jumped," Canning said. "I wouldn't have had the speed to come around him.
"I either had to hit him early with a gap or do something different. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do. I felt a moment in the final where everyone kind of just hesitated, and I jumped them to give myself that extra second."
Despite Canning's success in the street sprint he will not be racing in the following day's WorldTour race, an event that he believes is a little above his ability at the moment but one that he hopes to compete at in future.
"I would love to do more road races and do the WorldTour races here one day," Canning said. "I've been working on trying to get my endurance up to par so that I can do these races but for now I'm not quite there yet."