Peter Sagan wins Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal

Ponzi outsprints Hesjedal for second

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wrapped up his pre-Worlds block of North American racing the way it began nearly one month ago in stage 1 at the USA Pro Challenge - with a resounding victory. The 23-year-old Slovakian champion didn't rely on his sprint, however, to win the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal but instead launched a searing attack over the punchy Cote de la Polytechnique ascent at 5.5km to go and rode away to a solo victory.

The near 3,900 meters of climbing on 17 laps of the Montreal circuit had already taken its toll as only 11 riders remained at the head of the race midway through the final lap.

For a moment it looked like Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) would end a troubled season in fine fashion as he had preceded Sagan's attack with a solo move of his own on the Cote de la Polytechnique.

Sagan, however, sensing weakness in his rivals and not wishing to risk the chaos of a sprint finale, mercilessly delivered the final knockout blow in a flash of panache and raw power as he caught and dispatched of Hesjedal and kept his foot on the gas through to the finish line.

In Sagan's wake the irrepressible Hesjedal leapt away from the 10-rider chase group at the flamme rouge, garnering another roar from the partisan crowd, and was quickly joined by Simone Ponzi (Astana). The 32-year-old Canadian led Ponzi through the 180-degree turn at 500 meters to go but Ponzi was too quick on the rise to the finish and led Hesjedal across the line for second place four seconds after Sagan.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), third on Friday at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, won the eight-man sprint for fourth three seconds later.

It was a bitter pill for Sagan to swallow when he could only place 10th on Friday's race in Quebec, on a course considered better-suited to his talents, but as he's shown so many times this season Sagan can seemingly win at will on virtually any terrain.

"I'm very happy for this victory because I came here with my team with big objectives in Quebec and here in Montreal," said Sagan. "In Quebec I maybe threw away the race because I attacked too hard, too early - it was my fault that I lost. But today was better."

While Sagan employed similar tactics today, appearing fully satisfied with not waiting for a sprint finish by bridging to a threatening break on the penultimate lap and chasing down a solo Robert Gesink (Belkin) on the final ascent of the circuit's early and signature climb of Mont Royal, this time his reserve of strength seemed limitless.

"Other teams wanted to do a hard race and on the last lap I saw other riders going too hard on the [penultimate Mont Royal] climb so I thought maybe today I'd try an attack on the last climb," said Sagan.

Sagan revealed that his original intention was to work with Hesjedal over the Polytechnique, "two would be better than one," which drew a quick quip from the Garmin-Sharp Canadian at the post-race press conference. "Maybe you should have slowed down a little bit."

For Hesjedal, who repeated his third place result from the inaugural Montreal WorldTour race in 2010, it was a satisfying way to close out a year with more than its fair share of disappointment.

"I wanted to challenge for victory but there's a great field here and hats off to Peter," said Hesjedal. "It was a strong move - I didn't expect anyone to come around me on the Polytechnique - but I put on a good show and I'm really glad to be here on the podium in my last race of the season.

"Once Peter went people needed to chase and decide if we were going for the win or going for second place. I made my move, did the best I could, and was pleased with the outcome."

Ponzi, too, was pleased with his second place result - the first WorldTour podium of the 26-year-old Italian's career.

"It was a very good day for me," said Ponzi. "I was very happy to finish on the podium after Peter who was the strongest today.

"The team helped me in the finale to get ready for the sprint, especially Enrico Gasparotto who did so much work to keep the group together and let me find the best possible position."

How it happened

The Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal peloton faced 17 laps of a famed 12.1km circuit which over the years has been host to the 1974 world championships, the 1976 Olympic Games as well as men's and women's World Cup races in more recent years.

The circuit begins on the Avenue du Parc and the peloton immediately ascends the route's signature climb up Mont Royal (the Cote Camilien-Houde at 1.8km in length at 8% average gradient). The riders then descend the Chemin Remembrance and the Cote-des-Neiges before beginning a more technical stint through the downtown streets surrounding the Université de Montréal.

The riders then face the circuit's second climb, the Cote de la Polytechnique (780m at 6% average gradient) mid-way through the circuit and descend along the Cote Ste-Catherines back onto Avenue du Parc. The flamme rouge is adjacent to the finish line as the riders descend slightly for 500 meters, negotiate a 180 degree turn around the center median, then climb a 4% rise for 500m to the finish.

Soon after the peloton rolled off the start line at 11:00am, riders from the Canadian national team came to the fore and ultimately instigated the day's early break. Canadian champion Zach Bell, competing as part of his national team at the Quebec and Montreal WorldTour races, escaped and was joined by Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff), Danilo Hondo (RadioShack Leopard), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Valerio Agnoli (Astana), who also was in the early break in Quebec on Friday. The five-man group grew to seven with the addition of Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) and William Clarke (Argos-Shimano) who bridged across at the completion of the opening lap.

The peloton trailed at 48 seconds after the first lap, but were spread across the width of the road and content to let the break roll ahead. One lap later the break's advantage had ballooned to nearly five minutes and with Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Sky setting tempo at the head of the field the gap stabilised at approximately 4:30 for the following six laps.

Midway through the race Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) jumped away from the peloton in pursuit of the break and later on the ninth lap his teammate Rudiger Selig, too, escaped from the field. At the end of lap nine Ignatenko trailed the break by two minutes, Selig followed at 2:35 while the peloton, still led by Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, had trimmed the break's advantage to three minutes,

Selig's solo effort came to naught as he was swept up by the peloton on lap 10, while his teammate Ignatenko pressed onwards but trailed the break by two minutes at lap's end. Ignatenko held off the peloton's pursuit through the top of Cote Camilien-Houde early on lap 11, but was caught soon after its summit with Team Sky leading the field.

The British WorldTour squad continued to push the pace with six riders on the front and their prolonged stint at the head of the field finally resulted in the early break's demise on lap 13 with 53.5km remaining.

FDJ and Lotto Belisol took over the reins and set a blistering pace, stretching out the peloton in a single file and ultimately causing splits. For the next lap and a half a bevy of squads tried to assert their will on the race, but other than whittling down the peloton to about 60 riders nobody was able to escape.

The elastic finally snapped on the 15th ascent of the Polytechnique as seven riders went clear: Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Oss (BMC), Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar). Heading onto the penultimate lap the break held a 25-second lead with Cannondale now at the front of the field leading the chase.

The 16th ascent of Mont Royal saw the first appearance of pre-race heavyweights attacking in earnest. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) jumped away from the peloton and was marked by Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard). The trio bridged to the break at the summit and none other than Peter Sagan (Cannondale) jumped across on the descent. Any semblance of cooperation came to a cessation and the move was caught at 18km to go.

Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) was the next to play his hand and the 32-year-old Swiss jumped away with 15km remaining. The peloton, now only about 40-strong, momentarily sat up and as Albasini crossed the finish line and heard the welcome one-lap-to-go bell he led a solo Amael Moinard (BMC) by seven seconds while the field came through at 15 seconds.

On the final Mont Royal ascent both Moinard and Albasini were caught with 10km remaining and another fierce round of attacking detonated what was left of the peloton. Friday's winner in Quebec, Robert Gesink (Belkin), made a strong surge and was quickly marked by Sagan. Over the top of the Mont Royal climb about 20 riders remained in front and soon another flurry of attacks were launched by Chris Froome (Sky), Bakelants, Hesjedal and Gesink - all of which were neutralised.

The attacking further whittled down the lead group to only 11 riders and on the final ascent of the Cote de la Polytechnique an attack by Hesjedal was countered by Sagan who would stamp his authority on the day's outcome.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling5:20:07 
2Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:04 
3Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp  
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:07 
5Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
6Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team  
7Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
8Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling0:00:09 
9Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
10Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
11Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ  
12Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling0:00:26 
13Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
14Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
15Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling  
16Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
17Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
18Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
19Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
20Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
21Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
22Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp  
23Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling  
24Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  
25Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard  
26Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
27Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team  
28Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling  
29Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
30Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha  
31Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team  
32Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
33Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha  
34Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ  
35Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
36Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
37Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
38Peio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
39Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
40Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
41George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard  
42Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
43Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
44Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team  
45Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
46Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team  
47Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard  
48Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ  
49Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha  
50Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
51Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ0:00:43 
52Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida0:00:45 
53Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:01:15 
54Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
55Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:01:33 
56Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:53 
57Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:02:42 
58Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:04:25 
59Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
60Hubert Dupont (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
61Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling  
62Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
63Adrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
64Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team  
65Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
66Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
67Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar  
68Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha  
69Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
70Elia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
71Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
72Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge0:05:28 
73Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ0:06:25 
74Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano  
75Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
76Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp0:07:31 
77Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar  
78Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Argos-Shimano0:07:52 
79Ryan Roth (Can) Canada  
80Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Katusha  
81Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
82Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
83Rory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
84Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
85Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
86Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
87Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
88Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:07:56 
89Bruno Pires (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:09:35 
90Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar  
91Ryan Anderson (Can) Canada  
92Wesley Kreder (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
93Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol0:13:35 
94Antoine Duchesne (Can) Canada  
95Nic Hamlton (Can) Canada  
96Francois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano0:13:38 
DNFIan Boswell (USA) Sky Procycling  
DNFJoseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Sky Procycling  
DNFGabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling  
DNFDanny Pate (USA) Sky Procycling  
DNFRichie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling  
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFJonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFDamiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFMichel Koch (Ger) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFThomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFChristian Vandevelde (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFTimothy Duggan (USA) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFJesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFSergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFJuan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFPetr Ignatenko (Rus) Katusha  
DNFViacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha  
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFAndy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFDanilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFJack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling  
DNFMarc Goos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling  
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling  
DNFJean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFBiel Kadri (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFJulian Kern (Ger) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFSébastien Minard (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFTomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFCameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFAdriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFRicardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFWilliam Clarke (Aus) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFJohn Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFPatrick Gretsch (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
DNFArnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ  
DNFDominique Rollin (Can) FDJ  
DNFOlivier Kaisen (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFMaarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFMaurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFBertjan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDavid Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
DNFYukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFBruno Langlois (Can) Canada  
DNFZachary Bell (Can) Canada  
DNFRob Britton (Can) Canada  
DNFMarsh Cooper (Can) Canada  

 

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