Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Canadian campaign kicked off today with the Grand Prix Cyclistes Québec. After 201 tough kilometers it was World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) who raised his arms as he crossed the line ahead of Olympic Champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Anthony Roux (FDJ). Nathan Haas finished the race in 6th place for our African team.
Warm temperatures and a blue sky greeted the riders at the start of the race and it didn’t take long for the break to go up the road. Matt Brammeier jumped right from the gun and dragged Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Nicolas Masbourain (Canada) with him. The eight rider break opened up a maximum gap of more than 4 minutes before the peloton started to react in the closing stages of the race.
With the gap coming down to under one minute Bak attacked the break. However, the Dane wasn’t able to stay away alone and was reeled in with roughly 40km to go. From then on the attacks wouldn’t stop. Going into the final Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) tried to ride away. His move was covered quickly though. Paul Voss (Bora-Argon18) was the next to jump. His solo effort came to end with less than 12 kilometers of racing left and was soon followed by an attack of Olivier Naessen (IAM). With 3km to go it was all together again though.
When the peloton approached the steep climb back into town for the last time Alaphilippe, Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Gianni Moscon (Sky) opened up a gap. The latter one even managed to drop Alaphilippe and Trentin but was brought back with 1km to go by no other than last years winner Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac). The Colombian looked like he could stay away but came less than 100 meters short in the end.
Roux had opened his sprint with 200m to go and would drag the rest of the peloton along. Sagan proofed to be the strongest as he powered past Uran. Haas was not far behind and would notch up 6th place in a tight sprint finish.
Nathan Haas – Rider
I already came to Quebec last year. By then my health was really poor and I couldn’t deliver a result. However, I noticed that this course could suit me, if I was going to be in a good condition. Obviously dropping out of the Vuelta a Espana last week due to stomach issues was not what I had hoped for, as I would have liked to show myself there again in the final week, but it was nice that the team gave me the opportunity to come to Canada. I wanted to pay the trust back and the guys really helped me to do so today. They were always around me and got me up to the front in the end. I think I came as close as I could to a potential win. Maybe there were a few things that we could’ve done different but racing is racing and all the things have to come together to win. I still take a lot of confidence from today. As a team we’re excited to travel down to Montreal now. We’ll try to better today’s result on Sunday and hopefully get on the podium.