Several events happened on the Grand Prix cycliste de Montréal, second round of the Canadian WorldTour Classics, this Sunday. As for the race itself, David Gaudu sent very good signals for the end of the season. After entering a strong group in the final, the Breton then tried to anticipate the sprint, but he finally took fifth place. As for Anthony Roux, he completed the very last race of his career and put an end to many years in the pro cycling world. Antoine Duchesne made himself a gift by taking the breakaway to celebrate this special day, the last one as a pro rider on home soil.
“I raced to win”, David Gaudu
Forty-eight hours after riding the streets of Quebec, the WorldTour peloton was expected in Montreal on Sunday for the second round of the Canadian tour. The course was again hilly, but much more demanding. “We knew that the circuit was much harder than the one in Quebec, and we therefore had a better chance of achieving a good performance”, explained David Gaudu. “There were nearly 4000 meters of elevation, it was almost like an Ardennes Classic”. “It suited us better, given the route, the distance and the elevation gain,” confirmed Sébastien Joly. “We were protecting David and Michael for the final. Initially a twenty-man group went but Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl chased it. Then, a move with six riders got away with Antoine, and the scenario was then rather classic”. At the head of the race to celebrate his last bib “at home”, the Canadian found himself with Théo Delacroix (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Andreas Leknessund (DSM), Antonio Nibali (Astana), Eddy Finé (Cofidis) as well as Florian Vermeersch (Lotto -Soudal). Together, they were able to cover a few laps with a maximum advantage estimated at six minutes. However, the peloton started to really pace up 80 kilometres from the line, and gradually lost riders from the back. “The pace was very fast”, explained Sébastien. “There weren’t really any counterattacks like in Quebec. Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates made sure to make the race hard, then there was a real attack on the last big climb, with the champions.” After riding at a high pace for nearly an hour, the peloton exploded in the final climb of Camillien-Houde (2.3 km at 6.2%).
“The team stayed around me as much as possible,” continued David. “It was an urban circuit, with specific areas where you needed to position, and others where you could recover. We knew it would come down to the last lap. I remained focused on that, and in my mind, only the last lap was important. I was careful on the previous ones, but I was really focused on the last one for the attacks”. And the attacks did come, in particular from the double winner of the Tour Tadej Pogacar. “I managed to hold on in the climb and to jump across at the right time to get away with the other four”, added the French climber. At the top, he found himself with the Slovenian, Wout van Aert, Adam Yates as well as Andrea Bagioli. “We managed to get a gap fairly quickly”, said David. “Then, Yates attacked first, and I decided to counterattack and go for it. I knew it could be the good moment. I got caught, but I tried”. The leading five did not fell apart later, it would then come down for a sprint in the slightly uphill home stretch. In first position of the group, the Groupama-FDJ rider then gambled. “300 meters from the line, I saw that Pogacar and Van Aert turned around at the same time and I told myself “why not go now? “, he said. “I have already finished third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and I just want to win a WorldTour Classic. I also know that I have a good kick, and that this distance worked for me in the past. If I had surprised them, it might have worked, but I failed to surprise them. Pogacar chased me right away”. The Slovenian even held off Wout van Aert in the sprint to win the race. David Gaudu finished in fifth position. “I have no regrets,” he said. “I tried, I raced to win, and I went all-in in the sprint”. “David was really very strong to be able to follow them, and he rode well”, added Sébastien. “In the final, he felt it was a good move to make, and it could have worked. He took the risk of losing to win”.
“There was emotion within the team”, Sébastien Joly
A few minutes after him, his road captain Anthony Roux crossed the final finish line of his professional cycling career. “It was a very difficult Grand Prix de Montréal, so it was not a gift for a conclusion”, he smiled. “I gave everything to finish this race. Still, it was a pleasure to finish on these two events that were close to my heart. There were good vibes. The shape was average, so it was difficult to do something, but it could also have been worse. I still managed to finish both races and to enjoy them. I’m just happy to be done with it. I am absolutely not sad or disappointed, but rather happy to move on and close this chapter of my life. I have come full circle.” A little later, Antoine Duchesne also arrived and was obviously moved to race for a last time in Canada. “There was emotion within the team”, concluded Sébastien. “Anthony is at peace because he already has a plan for the future. We feel that he is very serene. As for Antoine, he took this nice breakaway, and he enjoyed it fully. He got strong support from his fans, and he was celebrated by the organizer on the podium afterwards. It was up to the character.”