Dumoulin has a Grounhog day
Coming in second place is never easy, but for Giant-Shimano's Tom Dumoulin, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec must have seemed like Groundhog Day. After losing out of the overall victory in Tour of Alberta on the last stage by a single second, coming in as runner up behind Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) in Quebec hit a raw nerve.
"Thanks for pointing it out," he said with a wry smile when asked about his recent results in the press conference. "I had a lot of second places this year and last. Alberta was more disappointing than today. I still lost in the last five meters, so I am disappointed a bit. but it's my first time to be up there in a classic with the best riders, so I'm happy for that. But when you get passed in the last five meters the first reaction is to be pissed. I think tomorrow I will look back on it with a positive feeling."
Most riders would be thrilled to have the results that Dumoulin has achieved this season: his nine second places have been balanced by five victories: his national time trial championship, the time trials of the Critérium International, Eneco Tour and Tour of Alberta and the points classification win in the Eneco Tour. But he is still seeking one more victory before joining the Dutch team at the world championships in Ponferrada.
"I've never done Montreal before. Normally this kind of finish suits me very well. I'm looking forward to it and hope to do a good result again."
Too late for Van Avermaet
Another rider who has had an inordinate share of second place finishes is BMC's Greg Van Avermaet. The Belgian, who finished second in both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders this season, and in the GP Quebec in 2012, looked set to claim another podium finish here, but started from too far back in the finale and had to settle for fifth.
"It was a little too far for a winning sprint," he told Cyclingnews, "We hesitated a little bit, and the first guys got a gap. I tried to sprint for my own place, I ended up fifth it wasn't too bad. I felt like I could have been a little closer."
Van Avermaet has been on the podium twice in Québec, and just off the podium in Montréal, but is still looking to Sunday for redemption.
"I like this course better, the finish is better for me. But I have another chance [on Sunday] - last year I was good there, and I think it's a good course. It's a good chance."
Van Avermaet said he was fatigued after a long season but was buoyed by a recent stage win in the Eneco Tour.
"I was pretty happy with the Eneco Tour victory. I'm the type of rider who needs to win races. It was good to win a WorldTour race, close to my home in Flanders. I was really happy with that."
After Canada, Van Avermaet expects to join the Belgian team in Ponferrada for the world championships, and hopes to do well, but said: "It's been a long season for me. I hope to be there and do a good race, but I'll be happy when it's over."
Navardauskas the sprinter?
Although Ramunas Navardauskas made his entry into the WorldTour as the Lithuanian time trial champion and has been an important part of Garmin-Sharp's team time trial squads since 2011, he says he is still finding himself as a rider.
Navardauskas wore the Giro d'Italia's maglia rosa in 2012 after coming in fifth in the opening individual time trial and then helping Garmin to the team time trial stage win three stages later. He was second overall in the 2012 Tour of Denmark, won a road stage in the Tour de Romandie in 2013 and then claimed an impressive solo Giro d'Italia stage victory in 2013.
However a new Navardauskas appeared earlier this year. In the Tour de France, he was seen mixing it up against the pure sprinters, using his pure in-line power to come fifth in Saint-Etienne on stage 12 behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), and again seventh behind Kristoff on stage 15. A solo stage win from a breakaway on stage 19 foiled the sprinters, but he wasn't done there: he sprinted to third on the Champs-Elysees.
"I have always been around there [in sprints], but never the best there. I can sprint, I can time trial a little bit, but still looking for my best suit," he said after taking his first one-day WorldTour race podium finish. "This type of race is good for me."
Vichot down in the sprint
Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) suffered a nasty crash in the final 200m of the hectic, uphill sprint in Quebec. The Frenchman stayed down on the ground in agony before being transported from the race in an ambulance. He was later diagnosed with a broken right collarbone.
Bookwalter makes a late break
BMC was working for Greg Van Avermaet but was present at the front of the race all day. First thanks to the work of Peter Stetina, who with Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge) did every bit of chasing in the first 160km until the early break was caught; then with Brent Bookwalter in the larger breakaway that went clear in the penultimate lap.
"At first we had a really good group when it was 11 guys, we were working pretty well together, we were motivated and had good representation from the teams," Bookwalter told Cyclingnews. "Then that group of four came across with one to go, and a few teams had two teammates, and that messed up our cohesion and doomed us."
"They caught us right at the base of the climb on the last lap. At that point, they had so much momentum coming past us, it was pretty much over for me at that point."
Stetina's work, Bookwalter said, was the work of three men.
"Greg's had a good run in these races, second and third before, so we felt like we had to shoulder a little of the responsibility. Stetina rode like three guys so we only had to use one."