Name the great classics of cycling on the WorldTour calendar and many will list of the five Monuments, the Spring Classics over cobblestones and the Ardennes races. The status of Canada’s one-day races is also growing and Diego Ulissi was mightily pleased and very relieved to finally take a sought after win in the WorldTour one-day race.
The position of the two one-day races in Quebec is ideal for riders preparing for the world championships. The races attract a strong line-up annually with the likes of two-time world champion Peter Sagan, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin and second at the Tour de France Rigoberto Uran all lining up. Ulissi has six Giro victories and has numerous one-day race wins in Italy on hilly courses. Montreal’s 4000 m of elevation gain suits the diminutive Italia who packs a powerful sprint at the end of a hard race. He showed that on Sunday in Montreal winning convincingly from a six man escape that formed in the final two laps of the race in Montreal.
“I had been looking for a victory in a one-day classic for a long time and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal was the perfect one for me as I finished third last year,” Ulissi said in Italian following the win. “In the finale when we saw that the favorites like Greg Van Avermaet or Peter Sagan were not there in the leading group I started to believe in my chances. I knew I was probably the fastest in this group but you never know.”
Ulissi’s team wasn’t as prominent early in the race but once the two-man break of Ben Perry (Israel Cycling Academy) and Matteo Dal-Cin (Cycling Canada) was reeled in his teammates covered moves.
“I want to thank my team-mates like Conti and Marcato who did a great job to help me,” Ulissi said. When asked about his world’s participation here said, “I haven’t talked to Davide Cassani (Italian coach) about the world championships but if he had questions my answer was this.”
Ulissi could be dangerous in Bergen. He has a history of winning stages of the Giro when the weather is often less than ideal like it could be in Bergen. The hill on the final loop at the world championship circuit could present an opportunity for opportunistic riders like the 28-year-old Italian to escape.
The 200-km races in Quebec and Montreal are prestigious one-day victories, and it’s a testament of their status that big name riders are attracted to Canada and away from the overlapping Tour of Britain and Vuelta a Espana for them.