Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) showed that he is a huge favourite for the world road race championships with his double victories at the Grands Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Montreal but Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) also showed his class in Canada and confirmed that he will be a threat in Ponferrada in two weeks' time. The Portuguese rider has a real chance of retaining the rainbow jersey for another year.
Costa was keen to honour his last WorldTour race as world champion. His very final outing in the 2014 rainbow jersey will be the Coppa Agostoni in Italy on Wednesday, close to the home of sponsor Lampre and his Lampre-Merida team's headquarters.
He only returned to racing at the GP Plouay on August 31 after quitting the Tour de France after stage 15 due to bronchitis. He was only 33rd in Friday's Gran Prix Cycliste de Quebec and seemed to lack the top-end speed and power to fight for victory. However, he proved he has been working hard with a impressive performance in Montreal after his Lampre-Merida team rode an aggressive race to set him up.
Costa knew that Gerrans and Orica-GreenEdge would try to dominate the sprint finish and so went on the attack several times during the final lap to try to force a split, isolate Gerrans and weaken his Orica-GreenEdge team.
Costa was in a strong and select move that formed over the top of the Cote Camillien-Houde and then attacked again inside the final three kilometres. He was chased down by a Orica-GreenEdge, with Pieter Weening doing a huge effort on the front for Gerrans, but Costa still had the brain and brawn to be well-placed for the uphill sprint and to beat Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp).
"I was hoping that Gerrans wasn't great in the finale because I knew it'd be difficult to beat him in the sprint," he explained after posing with numerous Portuguese cycling fans at the podium area of the race.
"That's why I tried to make the race hard by having a teammate up the road and that's why I attacked on the last last lap and again on the last short climb at the University. It didn't work out and so then I tried to find some last energy for the sprint. I tried my best and got second place, so I'm quite happy. We raced as we planned and got a result. It's been a good race for us. I'm not disappointed. This is good result for me."