Canada’s only two WorldTour races take place on Friday, Sept. 13 with the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and on Sunday, Sept. 15 with the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe, Vincenzo Nibali and last years winner of both events Michael Matthews are among the races highest-profile starters. Additionally, there will be 19 Canadians racing, some of them in a WorldTour race for their first time for the 10th edition of the race. If you are in old Quebec City or Montreal for these races and plan to spectate you’ll want to know where the best places to watch the action from are. So here’s your guide to spectating the GPCQM.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
The race in Quebec City features a 201.6 km course. The best places to take in the action are in the old city close to the beautiful Château Frontenac. Held on a 12.6-km circuit you will have the chance to see the peloton go by a total of 16 times and may be able to see them multiple times per lap if you position yourself well.
Start your day off before the race at the entrance of the Delta hotel where you can spot the riders hopping on their bikes to ride the short distance to the start/finish line on Grande Allé. You may be able to snap a picture with your favourite rider.
Then head over to the start/finish area for the team presentation that takes place at 10 am EDT. The racing gets underway at 11 am and then you’ll want to make your way to one of the good spots to spectate the race from.
One of the prime spots to watch the race from is on Côte de la Montagne which the riders hit about 9 km into the lap. The steep but short ascent is only 300 m long but is a leg-sapping 10 per cent. The beautiful street is a great spot to take in some of the action. If you position yourself towards the top of the climb you have the chance of seeing the peloton twice. Once the riders crest the Côte de la Montagne you can turn around and find a spot to watch along Rue de Buade or Rue du Fort which the riders hit after 11-km on the lap.
Another great spot to watch the race from is on Côte de la Potasse where the race then heads up Des Glacis. It’s another steep little climb before the riders turn onto Grande Allé to head through the start/finish area.
With a couple of laps to go after moving around on course it’s worth heading onto Grande Allée to catch the finale of the race. The two short climbs can be used to escape the peloton, as Rigoberto Uran did in 2015 but it often comes down to a bunch sprint. Last year it was Matthews who took the win ahead of Van Avermaet. The finish is expected to take place between 4:15 pm and 4:30 pm depending on the speed of the race.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
The 12.2 km circuit in Montreal is raced by the peloton a total of 219.6 km in 2019 to celebrate the 10th edition of the Laurentian Classics. This circuit features more total elevation gain in large part because the peloton climbs Voie Camillien-Houde a total of 18 times. The racers stay at the Delta downtown so you can head over there to catch the riders departing from their hotel for the race.
The races start/finish area is on Avenue du Parc. The team presentation begins at 9:15 am EDT with the race beginning at 10:15 am.
Camillien-Houde is 1.6 km long and averages over seven per cent. Over the years it’s often been where the breakaway goes on the first or second lap. The last time up Mount Royal is also raced at a furious pace with the climbers trying to escape the sprinters in the peloton. It is a great place to watch the race from but like in Quebec there are a few good spots that are particularly interesting for spectators. If you want to see the race multiple times on each lap, the intersection at the base of Camillien-Houde at Côte Sainte-Catharine is a good place to go.
Another hill on the course is the Côte de la Polytechnique. The race heads through here 6-km into each lap soon after cresting Camillien-Houde. Sagan used this as a launch pad for his solo winning move in 2014.
For the finish and podium ceremony, head back to Avenue Parc. Last year, Matthews edged out Sonny Colbrelli in a bunch sprint.
If you don’t live in Quebec City or Montreal but still want to follow Canada’s only two WorldTour races live, you have a number of viewing options. You can follow the racing on social media with the #gpcqm2019 and check back here throughout the weekend for interviews and more from the GPCQM. For more information on following the races check gpcqm.ca.