February 11, 2013 (Montreal, QC) – Serge Arsenault and his team at the Québec City and Montréal Grands Prix Cyclistes held press a conference today in Montreal with Quebec City’s conference being held on Feb. 12, to launch La Québécoise on September 12 and La Montréalaise on September 14 – the only two cyclosportive events in the Americas to be held in parallel with UCI WorldTour events.
Several distances will be offered at both rides and details will be forthcoming later today but here’s an excerpt from an interview with Arsenault prior to today’s launch that was under embargo – the full interview will appear in Pedal Annual 2013, our season-launch issue that will be released soon and also available from our booth at the Toronto Bicycle Show Mar. 1-3.
Excerpts from Pedal pre-press conference interview with Serge Arsenault on GPC Cyclo-sportives in MTL and QCity.
Are plans still on track for the two cyclo-sportive / granfondo rides associated with the 2013 WorldTour races in Quebec City & Montreal this year? These are scheduled for the days immediately preceding the WorldTour races in Quebec City (September 13) and Montreal (September 15)?
Serge Arsenault: As you now know, we are using the name “Cyclo-sportives” in English for the rides. For us, “granfondo” implies an urban ride, which is not what we are proposing.
We were looking at the concept three years ago, agreements are now in place with the cities; and we’re selling tourism packages around the world. But we still want to see 70% of the entries coming from Canada.
We have to strike a balance between what the UCI WorldTour requirements are and what the public sectors (governments in Canada) want. They are looking for a high quality tourism product that will draw visitors from outside of Canada.
As for the third part of the triangle, we have to please thousands of Quebecers and Canadians who want to participate for their health and to enjoy the sport. I am aiming at lots of riders; this could become a major tourism attraction.
On Thursday, September 12 the Québécoise begins near Quebec City and on Saturday, September 14 the Montréalaise launches in Montreal with three distances at each event ranging from 85-190km in one day – or has anything changed?
Arsenault: The Cyclo-sportives will be as well-organized as the Grand Prix Races. We are getting to be old hands with such things as to having ambulances and doctors ready. We are also prepared for minor issues such as blisters; everything has to be top of mind. This comes after three years of planning.
In Quebec City, riders can do three different rides. The organization will try to provide a perfect welcome for European and US visitors. The same passion will be extended to top guests to meet expectations.
Montreal is a big city and it’s complicated to organize such an event. The organization calls for a complicated game plan. But our finishing time services are right on track.
The Montreal ride will not start from Parc Jean Drapeau as previously announced. This would put probably too much bicycle traffic onto a narrow bike path leaving Parc Jean Drapeau and going underneath Victoria Bridge. Another aspect is that this would put the start line km away from the finish line, entailing all kinds of complicated logistics with moving our music, 1st aid, toilet, bike stands, kiosks, etc.
So instead, we will start on Park Ave beside where the WorldTour race is organized in Montreal. From there, riders will pedal down St. Lawrence Blvd to Nun’s Island, cross over the Estacade (ice breaker bridge over the St. Lawrence River) and then the most ambitious group will eventually pedal some 190km to within 5km of the U.S. border before returning to Montreal. Distances of 95km and 145km are also offered.
The courses will be quite different between Quebec City & Montreal and three circuits will be proposed in each city [note: the shorter distances in Quebec City will feature much more elevation difference than the relatively flat rides around Montreal of up to 570m].
There will be a support vehicle following the peloton for all six events. There will also be feeding stations along the ride and a hot meal at the finish line. Washrooms and showers will be available for all participants.
What prompted the new concept from what was initially proposed (i.e. a 7-day ride starting near Lac St. Jean to pass via la Malbaie on the way to Quebec City)?
Arsenault: Two years ago we were thinking that we should take care of Quebec’s regions. But the discovery of Quebec’s rural regions is already well-covered by organizations such as Vélo Québec (which organizes several large recreational rides each year in different parts of Quebec). So we decided to concentrate on one-day rides near Quebec City and Montreal. [note: GPCQM does also offer extended cyclo-sportive bike trips of up to six days, for instance through the Charlevoix region].
The three circuits offered in each city provide incredible something for everyone. This March and April we will be building up a long-term close association with media and covering security from A-Z.
Stay tuned to Pedal for more on these exciting new GPC Cyclo-sportives…and pick up the season-launch edition for the full interview with Arsenault.