Etixx – Quick-Step to GPCQM
Held over two hilly and testing circuits, the Canadian events are sure to provide spectacular and thrilling racing.
Scheduled on Friday, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec will see the rider cover 16 times a 12.6-km long circuit that will take them over four climbs: Côte de la Montagne (375 m, 10%), Côte de la Potasse (420 m, 9%), Montée de la Fabrique (190 m, 7%) and Montée du Fort (1000 m, 4%). The course favours the strong sprinters and puncheurs alike, with the action set to reach its climax on the last lap, when the race will become very aggressive as the teams will increase the pressure in an attempt to shred the peloton to pieces and give their leaders the perfect launch pad to victory.
Two days later, the riders will take on the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal, on a parcours made famous by Eddy Merckx at the World Championships in 1974, when he won his third and final world title. The circuit is 12.1-km long and includes three hills – Côte Camillien-Houde (1800 m, 8%), Côte de Polytechnique (780 m, 6%) and Avenue du Parc (560 m, 4%) – which will act as an invite for the attackers to go for their chance.
Etixx – Quick-Step comes at the start with a strong and balanced squad, consisting of Critérium du Dauphiné white jersey Julian Alaphilippe, seven-time Monument winner Tom Boonen, Laurens De Plus, Nikolas Maes, Fabio Sabatini, Matteo Trentin, Brabantse Pijl champion Petr Vakoč and Stijn Vandenbergh.
For Tom Boonen, it will be the second time that he'll ride the two Canadian World Tour events, to which he looks with much optimism: "I was here last year before the World Championships in Richmond and I enjoyed racing Quebec and Montreal, so I decided to return. I like the circuits, the support of the passionate crowds and how well-organised is everything. Concerning the races, there will be a lot of attacks and we will try to be among the protagonists, although it's not going to be easy."
Sport director Davide Bramati, who'll lead the team from the car, previewed the two races: "Quebec and Montreal come up with nice circuits, with the latter having a more difficult course. The team is really motivated and Tom – on whose experience we are counting – will be our road captain. Overall, we have a bunch of young guys who can do well, they are ready for this challenge and we're keen on trying to get a good result."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele