September 10, 2012 (Montreal, QC) – With a surprise kick during the final 300 metres Norway’s Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky Procycling) out-paced Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale in second and Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team in third for the biggest win of his career at the third edition of GP Cycliste de Montréal.
Nordhaug, not a typical fantasy league selection, was not expected to win as he was supporting his teammate and compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen, and pushing watts to the limit for the lead out. But when he got the green light from BH in his earplug – GO – he made no mistake taking advantage of Kolobnev, who started his sprint a bit too early, as the Norwegian passed him for the victory of the 205.7km race in 5 hours 28 minutes and 29 seconds.
“I felt so strong in the last kilometre. It’s an unbelievable experience. I had victories already, but not in a race like this,” said an elated Nordhaug post-race.
In fact, the final outcome was up for grabs until the end, keeping fans on the edge of their seats as the most intense moments happened on the mountain during the last two laps. While everyone was trying to stay alive until the finish, Canada’s David Veilleux (Europcar) started to push hard on the pedals, right in the middle of the Camilien Houde (mayor of Montreal in the 1920′s) climb.
The press room, the people in the streets, and the sound of trumpets outside got louder – and even louder when around five seconds later, the historic Canadian winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), decided to answer Veilleux’s call. For a minute, everyone was hoping to see these two racers together until the end of this race… for yet another amazing Canadian cycling story.
But on this day, the old Camilien Houde climb forced Hesjedal and Veilleux to slow down and stop digging deep…and the group behind was still very strong as they were caught. Soon after the attacks began again setting up the final push and Nordhaug’s surprise final assault. Here is what Hesjedal had to say after his race:
“I was on the podium here in 2010 and it would have been nice to do better than third, but I have to be realistic,” said Hesjedal. “I’ve had a good season, winning the Giro and riding well in the Tour de France until my crash. I went for it today and I was happy to be in the top group.”
When the pack decided to speed up, it took four laps to catch them – and then there were two laps to go. Unable to follow the pace after they were hunted down on lap 16 (of 17 laps), Boaro and Martinez did not finish, while Gautier was helped by his teammate, Anthony Charteau, to make it across the finish line in time.
With 49 riders who DNF’d, the Montreal course showed no mercy. Riders like Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica-Green Edge, Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Sky Procycling, Christian Vandevelde (USA) Garmin-Sharp, José Ivan Gutierrez (Esp) Movistar Team and Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-GreenEdge were the stars who decided to head back to the Delta Hotel.
The GPC Quebec City course also had is fair share of DNF’s with 62 riders. But here is what Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Sky Procycling said via Twitter after his race: ”Montreal was harder, that and my legs were refusing to do circles today, cracking ride by Lars though, gutsy gutsy victory ”
Legendary Canadian rider, Michael Barry (Sky Procycling), who was racing for the last time in Canada as he recently announced his retirement, was happy with the outcome. “To see one of my teammates win here was good way to cap it off,” commented Barry.
Many attacks occurred during the last two laps. At some point we saw Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar and Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep talking to each other. It could have been the good moment for a French escape but Voeckler decided to go it alone leaving Chavanel in the group. Chavanel hadn’t received his confirmation for the 2012 UCI Road World Championship, and he was clearly trying to prove that he was ready. (note: both Chavanel and Voeckler received their ticket to UCI Road Worlds this morning!).
For some reason, riders are still trying to understand what it takes to win in Montreal. This is a young race proving that there are still many ways to win. If classic specialists are more inclined to win in Montreal, we could see medium mountain climbers on the podium in the coming years.
The complexity of Montreal’s race will bring new faces to the 2013 edition… perhaps Monsieur Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara. For now it’s one Norwegian who captured the glory and our imagination. Yet still we dream – it’s what cycling is all about.
Full results HERE.