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Gesink wins GP Quebec

Belkin's Robert Gesink claimed a hard-fought victory in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, out-sprinting French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and BMC's Greg Van Avermaet from an elite selection of riders that emerged in the closing kilometres of the taxing Canadian WorldTour event.

Pre-race favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) used his bullets to chase down a late escape from Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and while the Slovakian champion was still in position to sprint for the win he sat up just prior to the line and rolled in for 10th.

Gesink's well-timed effort for the victory was his second success in the Canadian WorldTour races, after his 2010 win in Montréal, and his fourth podium appearance in the races. The 27-year-old Dutchman became the first rider to win in both Québec and Montréal and today's victory completed a Québec podium progression having finished third in the inaugural 2010 edition followed by a runner-up finish in 2011.

The win was Gesink's first since he took the overall victory at the 2012 Tour of California.

"I'm really happy since my season so far has been really tough for me," Gesink said. "It tried to do good in the Giro and I got sick then worked hard in the Tour but still didn't win any races.

"I worked hard the last few months to be good here and it's really nice [to take my first win of the season]."

What was most remarkable about the victory was that Gesink prevailed over a sprinter like Sagan, who has been nearly untouchable in finishes like this throughout the year, as well as Van Avermaet, who has been on the podium of 12 races this season.

"Guys like Sagan and Greg are normally much faster than I am, but it was a really tough race and everybody was really tired," Gesink explained. "With 16 laps you have to wait and wait to be fresh as possible in the end. The uphill sprint suits me, too, and it all came together today. It was pretty hard, but I'm still a bit surprised."

Van Avermaet, runner-up in Québec the year prior to Simon Gerrans, once again made the podium and continued his lengthy stint of podium results at North American races dating back to the Tour of Utah more than a month ago. The Belgian has now placed either second or third in six races following a victory in the first stage in Utah on August 6.

Van Avermaet, too, burned some matches along with Sagan in chasing down Terpstra a few kilometres from the finale.

"This year I was feeling pretty good again," said Van Avermaet. "In the sprint I marked Peter Sagan but I think he was a little tired. Gesink was good inside the last kilometre and the strongest guy won the race."

The fourth edition of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec was once again contested on 16 laps of a 12.6km circuit in historic Old Québec totalling 201.6km. With the start/finish line on the Grande Allée thoroughfare the peloton partakes of a counter-clockwise loop, first descending through the Park Des Champs-De-Bataille. The riders turn left onto the Boulevard Champlain along the Saint Lawrence River before starting the steep ascent up the Cote de la Montagne (10% average gradient with its most severe pitch at 13%). The peloton then negotiates the narrow and undulating streets of the old city, including the KOM climb of the Cote de la Potasse 2km from the finish, before returning back onto Saint Louis for a shallow, yet leg-stinging, 4% rise to the finish line.

A flurry of attacks mid-way through the opening circuit led to a nine-man break gaining a small gap, but once the finish line was in sight the move was neutralised. In the aftermath of that opening salvo the day's early break formed soon after the beginning of lap two. The three-man move was comprised of Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Tiago Machado (RadioShack Leopard) and Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and the trio pushed out a maximum lead of 6:12 after three laps.

As the break's lead quickly grew over the second and third laps the chase was organised by Cannondale and Movistar and those two squads worked at steadily chipping away the escape's advantage. Like clockwork they carved approximately 30 seconds off the break's lead each lap.

After eight laps (110.8km) had been completed, the mid-point of the race, the lead trio's advantage had been reduced to 2:50 where it stabilised for one more lap. On lap 10 the break's gap was halved to 1:20 and at lap end the fireworks commenced at the head of the peloton.

Gloves are off

On the gentle rise through the finish line four riders jumped clear of the field - BMC teammates Tejay van Garderen, Amaël Moinard and Steve Morabito plus Spanish road champion Jesus Herrada (Movistar). As they turned left onto the Boulevard Champlain the four-man chase grew to six with the addition of Jack Bobridge (Belkin) and Eduard Vorganov (Katusha). Prior to reaching the base of the Cote de la Montagne ascent they reached the lead trio to form a new nine-man lead group.

While the original three escapees sat on the back up the Cote de la Montagne, Machado kept his KOM winning streak alive at 10 laps straight as he moved to the front on the Cote de la Potasse for top honours.

On the rise to the finish line, with the BMC trio driving the break, two of the original escapees, Agnoli and Bilbao, couldn't handle the pace and were dropped. The now seven-man group pressed onwards and held a 28-second advantage with five laps remaining.

Back onto the Boulevard Champlain along the St. Lawrence River the peloton was now led by Lampre-Merida and by the top of the Cote de la Montagne the break's lead had dropped to 15 seconds. Saxo-Tinkoff took over pace-making duties on the run-in to the KOM with Machado digging deep to win yet again and wrapping up the mountains classification for good.

Early on the 13th lap Vorganov was dropped from the break, leaving the BMC trio of van Garderen, Moinard and Morabito plus Herrada, Bobridge and Machado in the lead. Cannondale drove the pace along the St. Lawrence River and at the base of the Cote de la Montagne it was gruppo compatto as the break was reeled in after 158km of racing had transpired.

Counterattacks were immediately launched with Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) jumping away and joined by Daniel Oss (BMC) and Yoann Offredo (FDJ). An inspired Oss soloed away up the KOM but was soon joined once again by Marcato and Offredo. The peloton was breathing down their necks as they passed by the majestic Chateau Frontenac hotel at the flamme rouge and two riders were able to bridge across - Sergei Chernetckii (Katusha) and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) - to form a five-man lead group with three laps to go.

While Cannondale and Argos-Shimano were powering the peloton two more riders reached the break - Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) - with 34.5km remaining. Cannondale, believing in Peter Sagan's chances, reduced their advantage to 10 seconds along the Boulevard Champlain and just after the KOM on the Cote de la Potasse once again the peloton was together, albeit steadily shrinking in size.

Who's got the freshest legs?

As the peloton set out on their penultimate lap with 25.2km to go a five-rider break held a very tenuous gap on the field. George Bennett (RadioShack Leopard) soon dropped his companions and set out alone with Bjorn Thurau trying, unsuccessfully, to bridge the gap to the young New Zealander.

The protracted sector of flat road on the Boulevard Champlain spelled doom for Bennett and with 18km to go his escape attempt was thwarted. As the peloton made the steep ascent of the Cote de la Montagne for the 15th time Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) attacked the climb with gusto. While the Canadian's tempo surely stung the peloton's legs, nonetheless the elastic didn't snap and the field held tenuously together for the moment in one long line.

On the approach to the Cote de la Potasse it was now time for Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to play his hand and the Dutch strongman powered away from the field and enjoyed a 25-second advantage as the bell rang for one lap to go.

Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), the defending Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal champion, made a valiant solo effort to reach Terpstra, but the Norwegian was caught just inside of 10km remaining.

As the peloton reached the Boulevard Champlain for the final time their deficit to Terpstra was slowly growing, now up to 30 seconds. Several teams traded positions at the head of the peloton - Sky, Cannondale, Orica-GreenEdge and Lampre-Merida - but cat-and-mouse games had begun with no one team willing to fully commit to bringing back Terpstra.

Over the top of the Cote de la Montagne it ultimately would be race favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) who came to the fore. The Slovakian champion got a small gap, but backed off slightly and was soon caught. Sagan would launch another strong attack on the Cote de la Potasse and would be joined by 2012 Quebec runner-up Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). The duo had Terpstra square in their sights and at 1.5km to go Sagan and Van Avermaet made contact with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider.

The lead trio immediately backed off the accelerator, and inside the final kilometre their numbers grew to eight. Robert Gesink led at 800 metres remaining and was followed by the likes of Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano), Rui Costa (Movistar), Fabian Wegman (Garmin-Sharp), Tom Jelte Slagter (Belkin), Matti Breschel (Saxo-Tinkoff), Terpstra, Van Avermaet and Sagan. Geschke attacked and was joined by the irrepressible Terpstra but the duo were caught with 400 metres to go

At this point, from a lead group of 10 riders, it was just a matter of who had the fresher legs with Gesink coming to the fore and powering to his first victory of the year.

Full Results
1Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team4:58:13
2Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
5Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team
6Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
7Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
8Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
9Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
10Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:06
11Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:08
12Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
13Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr
14Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
15Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
16Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.fr
17Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
18Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team
19Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
20Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
21Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
22Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha
23Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ.fr
24Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica-GreenEdge
25Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
26Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
27Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
28Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
29Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
30Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
31Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi
32Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:00:15
33Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
34Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:19
35Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:24
36Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:00:26
37Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
38Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard0:00:35
39Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp0:00:40
40Ryan Anderson (Can) Canada
41Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling0:00:42
42Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida
43Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
44Adrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:00:57
45Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
46Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp
47Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
48John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
49Björn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar0:01:12
50Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
51Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
52Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
53Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
54Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
55Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
56Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
57Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
58Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
59Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol
60Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ.fr
61Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
62Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard
63Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Sky Procycling
64Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
65Bruno Langlois (Can) Canada
66Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
67Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha0:01:32
68Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
69Bruno Pires (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:01:40
70Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr
71Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
72Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team
73Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:01:56
74Ryan Roth (Can) Canada0:02:08
75Rory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
76Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
77Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:02:22
78Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling
79Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
80Antoine Duchesne (Can) Canada
81Marc Goos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
82Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
83Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
84Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
85Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
86Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
87Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
88Julian Kern (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
89Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
90Francois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano
91Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
92Elia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
93Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
94Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha0:03:02
95Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:13
96Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:03:37
97Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
98Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:03:39
99Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano0:04:14
100Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:04:46
101Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:05:01
102Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol
103Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:05:05
104Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:31
105Wesley Kreder (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
106Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Argos-Shimano0:10:40
107George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
108William Clarke (Aus) Team Argos-Shimano
109Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFIan Boswell (USA) Sky Procycling
DNFJoseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Sky Procycling
DNFGabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling
DNFDanny Pate (USA) Sky Procycling
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFMichel Koch (Ger) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFBrian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFThomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFThomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
DNFAndrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFTimothy Duggan (USA) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFJesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFJuan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFRuben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFPetr Ignatenko (Rus) Katusha
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
DNFEduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team
DNFAndy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
DNFDanilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
DNFJack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFJean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSteve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFTomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFAdriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFJan Polanc (Slo) Lampre-Merida
DNFPeio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNFArnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNFOlivier Kaisen (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFMaarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
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
DNFZachary Bell (Can) Canada
DNFRob Britton (Can) Canada
DNFMarsh Cooper (Can) Canada
DNFNic Hamlton (Can) Canada

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.