Ben Perry Wins KOM Title at GP Cycliste de Montréal as Van Avermaet Powers to Victory + PHOTOS
September 11, 2016 (Montreal, Que.) – Team Canada’s Ben Perry won the King of Mountain competition at the 205.7km Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal as Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) outmaneuvered the rest of the favourites to power his way to an emphatic victory on Sunday.
The Olympic champion, narrowly beaten by world champion Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff in Quebec two days ago, took fine revenge after finishing eight times in the top 10 of the Canadian WorldTour races. Sagan had to be content with second place ahead of Italy’s Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida).
Perry and teammate Matteo Dal-Cin were members of a six-rider breakaway that formed in the first few kilometres as Perry went for KoM points over the top of the course climb on each designated lap to lock up the title. The break was finally caught with two laps remaining in the 17-lap event.
“It was a really long time off the front,” said Perry. “A guy from Bora-Argon 18 went and I followed him, and then Matteo caught us and eventually there were six of us. Kevin [Field] our director thought it was more realistic for us to play our cards in the long shot odds of a breakaway, and also go for the KoM.
“I was the first one to get a [KoM] point, after that Matteo rode like an absolute tank the whole day, keeping me safe, and he’s the reason we probably stayed away a lap longer than we would have otherwise, so it’s due to him that I made it. I haven’t done many races over 200K in my life and we were away for all but about 20 kilometres of the race. I’m happy that I proved I could do it and stay out so long on such a hilly race, for me that means a lot.”
165 riders started the 7th edition of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. Sebastian Henao (Team Sky) and Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman (Orica-BikeExchange) did not start. Team Lotto Nl-Jumbo riders Mike Teunissen and Moreno Hofland were the first two men to attack from the flag, but were quickly pulled back. The second attempt was a more enduring one.
It involved Fabien Grellier (Team Direct Energie), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Argon 18) and Team Canada’s Perry and Dal-Cin. The four were later joined by Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) and Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar Team) for a youthful break with only under-25 riders. The peloton was content to let the six go ahead and their lead grew steadily to reach six minutes after 40 km.
From then on, Peter Sagan’s Team Tinkoff teammates seized the reins, maintaining the gap at around 5:30. The peloton raised the tempo in the last five laps as Sütterlin was dropped by his breakaway companions. De Bie was next to lose touch with the lead as teams Lampre-Merida and Team Sky took turns at the front of the bunch to reduce the gap.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) shook the peloton with four laps to go, taking in his wake 25 other riders: Stuyven, Gautier, Rosa, Offredo, Petilli, Impey, Nieve, Preidler, Oomen, Pedrero, Mori, Juul-Jensen, Ulissi, Fuglsang, Oliveira, Vermeulen, Cardoso, De Plus, Caruso, Schaer and Ligthart.
But the group was reeled in shortly before an overall regrouping as Grellier, Perry and Pöstlberger were caught with 23 km to go. Another group then attempted to break clear, notably including local favorite Hugo Houle (AG2R) and his team-mate Cyril Gautier, along the most active of the lot with 2010 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec winner Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie). But the peloton regrouped again as the struck out on the last lap.
The big battle started on the final ascent of Camilien-Houde when Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) attacked in turn. Costa, the 2011 winner, caught his rivals off-guard and led on his own for the last five kilometers before being reeled in shortly after the flamme rouge.
Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac Procycling Team) tried to launch the sprint from afar but Van Avermaet maneuvered better and powered his way to an amply deserved victory for the Olympic champion after three previous podiums in Canada.
“I came here many times and I had not managed to win yet. I’m very happy I’ve done it. We worked very hard with Alaphilippe and Vakoc in the finale to try and catch Rui Costa and I’m glad we made it so that I had could have my chance to go for the win. It’s been an incredible year. For many years I was the guy who didn’t quite make it and now I’ve won all those great races. I hope I can continue like this and win races like Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. It’s sure that Peter and I have responsibilities as the world champion and Olympic champion and I’m sure we will continue to do our best in the years to come,” said Van Avermaet.
Winner in Quebec on Friday, Peter Sagan made his effort a little bit too late and had to be content with second place ahead of Diego Ulissi and Australia’s Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange).
“I’m happy. First in Quebec and second in Montreal is not bad. What happened? I was just tired. I had cramps in the final sprint and I could not sprint better so I’m content with my second place. I cannot think about the world championships yet. It’s too far away,” commented Sagan.
Top Canadian Hesjedal finished 19th for his last race in Canada as he retires at the end of this season. “I’m the one who launched the big battle on Camillien-Houde today. Unfortunately, it didn’t work but when you see the riders here on the podium, there was not much we could do.
“I really wanted to finish well in this race I like and with my Trek-Segafredo team-mates, we tried to toughen the race in the last lap. I won’t say I was expecting more. I’m the best Canadian today and it’s not so bad,” said Hesjedal who later tweeted “Thanks to @GPCQM what a day in Montréal ! Thanks to everyone on the road and thank you @TrekSegafredo!!”