June 18, 2012 (Montreal, QC) – Serge Arsenault, organizer of the Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal (GPCQM) held a press conference here today to give an update on the WorldTour races coming on September 7 to Quebec City and September 9 to Montreal. This will be the third edition of the event.
Among those attending today’s event were Jacques Landry of the CCA (High Performance Director), Louis Barbeau of the FQSC (Director General), and SpiderTech p/b C10 riders Zach Bell, Martin Gilbert, and Ryan Roth (all fresh from the Tour de Beauce). A total of 168 WorldTour riders from 22 teams are coming to Quebec for the two races which will be broadcast in 75 countries. These are the only WorldTour events in North America.
Arsenault was joined at the conference table by Cathy Laroche (Kia Canada), Jean-Marc Eustache (Air Transat), Pierre Karl Peladeau (Quebecor), and Manon Barbe (City of Montreal). Retired sports journalist Richard Garneau acted as the master of ceremonies at the conference.
Speaking in turn, Laroche mentioned that her company is providing 82 support cars for the WorldTour teams. Barbe noted that Montreal is a cyclist’s city with 600km of bike paths, the Bixi rental bikes, the Mardis Lachine crits, the Feria du Velo (Tour de l’Ile), and the GPCQM which last year drew 150,000 spectators. Barbe also noted that her city is keen to host other international sporting events. Eustache noted that his company’s charter flights between Paris and Montreal carry 300 cyclists and their entourage as well as the equipment. “And it is the equipment that is more complicated to carry,” Eustache revealed.
Peladeau started ribbing and joking with Arsenault when Eustache mentioned that the GPCQM organizer is “difficult to resist.” And then it was Peladeau’s chance to speak. The media and printing magnate said that it is a pleasure to be a new partner of Arsenault’s. Peladeau continued about his desire to see the popularity of cycling increase and revealed that he participated in the Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie charity ride over the past weekend, joining renowned triathlete, Pierre Lavoie for 410km of the 1,000km that Lavoie rode from Saguenay to Montreal.
Peladeau also joked that his TVA television channel will have better coverage of the GPCQM WorldTour races than rival Evasion channel (which is owned by Arsenault). Peladeau has not only joined the GPCQM in a big way, but Pedal readers will remember that he also recently signed on as a title sponsor for the Garneau-Quebecor cycling team.
Arseneault spoke last, drawing a parallel between the GPCQM WorldTour races and Montreal’s Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 car races (described by Wikipedia as “the third most watched sporting event worldwide”). He spoke about how the different events are warmly received in Quebec and both create a lot of economic spinoffs. “And I was very pleased to speak with UCI president Pat McQuaid three weeks ago. Confirmation of our WorldTour licence renewal should come soon for 2014-2017.” Clarifying this remark afterward, Arsenault expressed optimism that his organization’s licence will be renewed, but this has yet to be confirmed and he is expecting word this week.
Arseneault noted that many other countries, including Brazil, China, and Russia now want in with the WorldTour series and suggested it is an extraordinary privilege to have these already in Canada. He reminded the audience that the Formula 1 series in Montreal was cancelled in 2009 and only brought back in 2010 with much effort and generous government support.
It is impossible, emphasized Arsenault, at this early point to say whether big names such as Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (winner of the 2012 Giro) will be on the start line in Quebec City or Montreal. His message was the same when later asked about other big names such as Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team). However, Arsenault suggested Contador [whose 2-year suspension expires on August 5, 2012] would be more likely to compete in the Tour of Spain (Vuelta) that runs concurrently with the GPCQM.
Pedal also chatted with Jacques Landry, high performance director at the CCA. Landry said that Zach Bell, a cyclist present at the conference, is one of Canada’s brightest hopes for a podium at the London Olympics on the track in the men’s Omnium. Other bright hopes include Tara Whitten (TIBCO to the top), in the women’s Omnium, and the women’s team pursuit.
For more on Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal (GPCQM) click HERE.