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Sagan triumphs in 2016 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec

A stealthy World Champion takes his second Laurentian Classic

Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Tinkoff) surprised everyone in a thrilling Grand Prix de Québec by emerging from the field take the win. Invisible and even off the back for most of the race, Sagan clawed back 2015 champion Rigoberto Uran in the final 150-metres to take his second Laurentian Classic triumph.

The first of two WorldTour Laurentian Classics was 16-laps of a 12.6-km circuit with several stings in its tail: the Cote de la Montagne (375-metres of 10%), the Cote de la Potasse (420-metres at 9%), the small Montée de la Fabrique climb and then the finishing grind up to the line, one kilometre of 4%.

Team Canada, fresh from the Tour of Alberta, lined up for the pre-race team presentation.

Cannondale-Drapac, on a September roll with two riders currently in the top-10 of the Vuelta a España and Jack Bauer’s win Thursday at the Tour of Britain, looked their usual stylin’ selves.

First six riders flashed away on Lap 1, with two others bolstering the move. In this first break were Team Canada and Silber member Nicolas Masbourian and Lotto-Soudal’s Lars Bak (Denmark). The octet pulled out 4:30 by the end of two laps. Orica-BikeExchange’s Canadian Christian Meier led the peloton with teammate Michael Matthews, the 2015 runner-up, in mind. Etixx-QuickStep worked for Julian Alaphillipe (France).

By Lap 4, the addition of Tinkoff and BMC to the chase had clipped the lead to 4:00 but it went out again as Masbourian and Dutchman Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo) engaged in KOM battle.

Halfway through the race, the gap had been clipped to 3:25. As BMC cranked it up on Lap 12’s passage of the Potasse, Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Tinkoff) lost contact with the field. Bak ripped away from his breakmates on the long drag to the Grande Allee finish.

Stage winner at the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Bak carried on solo on Lap 13. First an attack by LottoNL-Jumbo and Astana riders closed the gap before Luke Rowe (Sky) and Alaphilippe reached Bak and then left the Dane behind. The new front duo led through the first half of Lap 14 but were reeled in.

The action was hot heading into Lap 15. Thirteen riders, including Direct Energie’s Canadian Antoine Duchesne, scampered away. Last season’s Vuelta a España champion Fabio Aru and two Lampre riders were included. But a lack of cohesion doomed the bunch. One of the Lampre riders, Slovenian Matej Mohoric, carried on alone.

Mohoric was brought to heel and then it was Paul Voss’s turn just before the bell lap. Bora-Argon 18’s German led onto the Plains of Abraham. Oliver Naesen (Belgium/IAM) then had his solo bid in the final 9-km. AG2R grabbed the reins in the peloton and Naesen was lassoed with 3.3-km remaining.

On the Montagne Etixx-QuickStep’s Matteo Trentin (Italy) attacked with Alaphilippe and Gianni Moscon (Italy/Sky).

Moscon left the Etixx duo behind. Suddenly reigning champ Rigoberto Uran loomed into view and passed everyone on the long drag into the headwind. It looked like he had the race in the bag, but Sagan, who had been playing possum all day, ripped by the faltering Uran on the left. Sagan adds the GP Quebec to his 2013 GP Montreal win. Olympic roade champion Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium/BMC) was the runner up.

The Grand Prix de Montreal is Sunday.

2016 Grand Prix de Québec
1) Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Tinkoff) 5:07:13
2) Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium/BMC) s.t.
3) Anthony Roux (France/FDJ) s.t.
17) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Team Canada) +0:05