The top professional cyclists in the world have assembled for the fifth edition of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec City held on Friday, September 12 in the Canadian province of Quebec. Defending champion Robert Gesink (Belkin) will be absent from the start line, as he was committed to competing at the Vuelta a España, however, the race will showcase 2012 winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) will no doubt want to have another run at the finish line on the Grande Allée after placing second last year behind Gesink in a hard-fought slog across the last few hundred meters, which are slightly uphill. Likewise, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) will want to improve on his third-place performance last year.
Some of the notable contenders, if the race comes down to a larger group and perhaps a sprint, are Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who has had a strong season with wins at Milan-San Remo, a stage at the Tour of Norway along with two stage wins at the Tour de France. He is in top one-day race form as well, having recently won Vattenfall Cyclassics and he will be leading Norway at the World Championships at the end of the month.
Other fast men in the mix will be Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), who was recently runner-up at the Tour of Alberta, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), who took a second place in the 2010 edition, and Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) who had several near-podium finishes at the Tour de France.
Opportunistic riders who will no doubt try to run away with the race in a breakaway or along the difficult uphill drag to the finish line are Lampre-Merida teammates Chris Horner and current world champion Rui Costa, who will be the first rider to wear the rainbow jersey in this event, and at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal held two days later.
Strongmen not to be underestimated on the challenging course are Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol), who won a stage at the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for a day, Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who also won a stage of the Tour, and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), who won two stages at the Giro d'Italia and a stage at the Tour. The French-speaking crowds will want to see a show from France's Ag2r-La Mondiale teammates Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet, who placed second and sixth overall at the Tour.
American rider Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is also in the running for a top results after placing fifth at the Tour de France and more recently winning the USA Pro Cycling, and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), who showed top form after winning the Tour of Utah.
World cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was back to racing at the Brussels Cycling Classic after taking time off to recover from a crash at the Eneco Tour in August, and he will likely want to capture a strong result near the end of the road season.
No matter which way the race goes, be it a small group sprint or an opportunist stealing the race from a breakaway, the course will decide a large part of the outcome. The peloton will race eleven laps of an 18.1km course for a total of 199.1km.
The riders will line up for the start of the race along the Grande Allée and gently descend through Les Plaines d'Abraham park and back up to the Grande Allée Ouest. The riders will descend to the Rue Champlain and race along the St. Lawrence river before making a turn back up through the walls of old Quebec City.
On the Cote de la Montagne, a short but steep climb at roughly 10 per cent, will cause the field to dwindle on each lap. The climbing doesn't end there as the peloton will continue on toward the Cote de la Potasse and back around passed the famed Chateau de Frontenac and onto the Grande Allée for roughly 500 meters on a steady uphill to the finish line.