Van Avermaet, Matthews headline Grands Prix Cyclistes de Quebec and Montreal

Organisers of the Grands Prix Cyclistes de Quebec and Montreal have announced the headliners of this year's double Canadian WorldTour races will include Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

"I love these two races; every year they're among my main end-of-season challenges," Van Avermaet said in a press statement issued on Thursday.

Van Avermaet won the GP de Montreal in 2016, and has thrice placed second at the GP de Quebec; in 2012 behind Simon Gerrans and in the 2016 and 2017 editions, losing both races to Peter Sagan. Sagan will not be returning to the two one-day races as he will instead be racing the Vuelta a España, which starts on Saturday in Malaga.

Van Avermaet has had another strong season highlighted by the eight days he spent in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. He put on the coveted jersey after BMC Racing won the team time trial on stage 3 and lost it following stage 11 into La Rosiere in the Alps.

Van Avermaet will be joined on the start lines by his BMC teammate Gerrans, who has won GP de Montreal in 2014 and GP de Quebec in 2012 and 2014.

Former winners that will return to the race include GP de Montreal's defending champion Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), along with Robert Gesink (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), who has won on both circuits; 2010 in Montreal and 2013 in Quebec City, and 2011 Montreal winner Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates). Wellens, who won the 2015 edition off GP de Montreal returns in top shape having placed third overall at the BinckBank Tour.

Matthews is a top contender for a victory having twice been on the podium in Quebec and has shown top end-of-season form after placing second overall at the BinckBank Tour and winning the final stage. Degenkolb will also be a welcome addition to this year's start list after he took an emotional victory on the cobbled stage 9 at the Tour de France in July.

Other competitors include Norwegian sprinter Kristoff, who won the final stage on the Champs-Élysées at this year's Tour de France and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), who won three stages at this year's Giro d'Italia.

Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), BinckBank Tour winner Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), Carlos Betancur (Movistar), Alexis Vuillermoz and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), French champion Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) will also be on the start line.

The 147-rider peloton will include the 18 WorldTour teams along with Professional Continental outfits Israel Cycling Academy and Rally Cycling, and the Canadian National Team.

"Once again, we are fortunate to have a very high-calibre field this year," said Executive Vice-President Marcel Leblanc. "The riders appreciate the value of our races, and they know that they make prestigious additions to a palmarès. We're also glad to have many Canadian racers competing this year, which demonstrates the value of home-grown cycling."

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