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Robert Gesink wins hard-fought GP Montreal

  • By John Wilcockson
  • Published Sep. 12, 2010
  • Updated Sep. 13, 2010 at 4:40 PM EST

Gesink held a narrow lead the whole last lap — right to the end.

Robert Gesink put in one of the finest performances in classics history Sunday to win a superb first edition of the Grand Prix de Montréal. And this spectacularly exciting race, on a spectacularly difficult course, watched by a spectacularly enthusiastic crowd, will be regarded as a true “classic” before too long.

“That was painful,” Gesink said at the end of the 16-lap, 193.6km ProTour race after he boldly held on to a narrow solo lead with a brave, mouth-wide-open effort over the final 10km.

The gap at the end was just four seconds over five men who’d been chasing him for most of that final lap. They were led in by the Slovak Peter Sagan of Liquigas, who took a last-gasp second place ahead of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Transitions, followed by Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia of RadioShack, Belgian Maxime Montfort of HTC-Columbia and Spain’s Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. There was a sixth rider in the chase, Norway’s Edvald Boasson-Hagen of Team Sky, but he fell on the sharp U-turn 550 meters from the line.

“I think it’s my biggest victory,” Gesink said later. “It was my first in a one-day ProTour race, so it’s very special, especially on a course that had nearly 4,000 meters (over 12,000 feet) of climbing.”

It was similar to his memorable stage win in the toughest mountain stage of this year’s Tour of Switzerland; but then he had a much bigger margin to play with, and he only had to negotiate a long downhill to the finish. In Montréal Sunday, after gaining just 10 seconds in his destructive attack on the brutal climb to the summit of Mont Royal, he had to do what was an epic time trial, his lead holding between just six and eight seconds the whole way.

Gesink raced that final 12.2km lap in just 16:46, the fastest of the day, at an average speed of 43.230 kph (26.24 mph). That was a performance of the very highest order after five hours in the saddle. Only the sport’s very finest athletes can attain such a level.

“Robert was amazing,” said third-place Hesjedal, “Congrats to him. And my team was amazing. I think we took control of the race and rode honoring my No. 1 bib. I just left it all out there.”

The lean 29-year-old Canadian, having the best season of his career, went on the compliment Sagan, the 20-year-old rookie who first astounded the cycling world with two stage wins at this year’s Paris-Nice. “I didn’t have the pleasure of riding Paris-Nice to see his coming-out party,” Hesjedal said, “but I have since witnessed his great riding and he obviously showed that today. I can’t be upset at all with a third place here.”

Hesjedal was the most-watched man in the race - by the fans and the peloton

Sagan himself internalizes his feelings, and in his hesitant Italian he only modestly acknowledged that he took second place. And when he was asked how he hoped to perform at his first world elite men’s road championship next month, he simply said, “I’ll be happy to finish, maybe in the top 20.”

Huge crowds, great race

Crowds were massive from the very start despite overcast skies and rain in the forecast. The opening lap was raced in a very fast 17:04, a pace that saw the day’s long break started by Gesink’s Rabobank teammate Maarten Tjallingii and Euskaltel’s Gorka Izagirre.

Caisse d’Épargne’s Angel Madrazo was the first to join them, as would Lampre’s Alfredo Balloni and Quick Step’s Kevin Seeldraeyers — after the lithe Belgian made a great climb the second time up Mont Royal, a 1.8km uphill averaging an 8-percent grade.

The five leaders became four when Balloni crashed out after losing control on the Mont Royal downhill. riding into a pothole on the shoulder and somersaulting over his bars into some long grass. He didn’t rejoin the race and joined his sick Liquigas team leader Ivan Basso who didn’t even start.

The four remaining men plowed ahead for the next 10 laps, with Madrazo spurting ahead each climb to take the King of the Mountains title, as they held onto a lead that attained a maximum of four minutes. After RadioShack initially chased the break, it was Boasson Hagen’s Sky troops that did most of the tempo setting, later assisted by Garmin and Lampre.

Chris Horner in the second break, just before being caught.

But Gesink was always calmly following. “We were in a good position all day with Maarten Tjallingii in the break,” Gesink said. “And the final only began when Maarten was dropped by the strong group (that went) in front (with four laps to go).”

This move was a violent acceleration by RadioShack’s Tiago Machado at the foot of the Mont Royal climb, an effort that released him, his teammate Chris Horner, Daniel Oss of Liquigas, Chris Anker Sørensen of Saxo Bank, and Francesco Gavazzi of Lampre. They quickly caught and dropped the remnants of the early break.

Machado buried himself to make the move stick, but their 36-second lead was cut to only 12 seconds as they hit the climb for the second-to-last time. “We really had to work hard.” Gesink said about his teammates’ efforts, “along with the team of Ryder.” Garmin’s Peter Stetina and Svein Tuft were the only Garmin men left with their leader, and without their brilliance the gap would have stayed much larger.

That penultimate climb saw Frenchman Cyril Gautier of BBox cross the gap to Horner, Gavazzi and Sørensen as Oss fell off the pace with Machado. But the most significant move (or rather aborted move) came from Gesink, who momentarily bolted out of the chase group as if it was standing still, only to ease up almost immediately. He knew it was still too early.

Rabobank works to bring back the break. Their efforts paid off.

“I had to wait and wait and wait until the last lap,” he commented. “I felt good and it’s difficult to wait because you want to try to make a difference, but I waited until the last lap.” This time, after more heroics from Stetina and Tuft helped snuff out the 28-second lead of Horner’s group, Gesink’s effort was for real. No one could match it. And he rapidly created that 10-second gap.

“At the top I was hoping it was enough to make it to the finish,” he said. “It was a pretty tough struggle. Of course the whole last lap you wonder if it’s enough. But you can’t think about that. You just try to give the best you’ve got, give it all to make it to the finish first … and the last corner, standing still and to speed up again from zero uphill was really painful seeing he guys coming from the back. But it was just enough. I made it and I’m really happy.”

  • 1. Robert Gesink, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team, in 4:58:22
  • 2. Peter Jsagan, (SKV) Liquigas-Doimo , at 4:00
  • 3. Ryder Hesjedal, (CAN) Garmin-Transitions, at 4:00
  • 4. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre, (ESP) Team RadioShack, at 4:00
  • 5. Maxime Monfort, (BEL) HTC-Columbia, at 4:00
  • 6. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 09:00
  • 7. Leonardo Duque, (COL) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 14:00
  • 8. Alexander Botcharov, (RUS) Team Katusha, at 14:00
  • 9. Francesco Gavazzi, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 14:00
  • 10. Alessandro Ballan, (ITA) BMC Racing Team, at 14:00
  • 11. Anker Sorensen Chris, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank, at 14:00
  • 12. Jakob Fuglsang, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank, at 14:00
  • 13. Francesco Reda, (ITA) Quick Step, at 14:00
  • 14. Thibaut Jpinot, (FRA) Française des Jeux, at 14:00
  • 15. Mauro Santambrogio, (ITA) BMC Racing Team, at 14:00
  • 16. Sylvain Chavanel, (FRA) Quick Step, at 14:00
  • 17. Gorazd Stangelj, (SLO) Astana, at 14:00
  • 18. Josホ Joaquim Rojas Gil, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 14:00
  • 19. Eduard Vorganov, (RUS) Team Katusha, at 14:00
  • 20. La Fuente Rasilla David De, (ESP) Astana, at 14:00
  • 21. Simone Ponzi, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 14:00
  • 22. Levi Leipheimer, (USA) Team RadioShack, at 14:00
  • 23. Gerald Ciolek, (GER) Milram, at 14:00
  • 24. Tiago Machado, (POR) Team RadioShack, at 18:00
  • 25. Pablo Lastras Garcia, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 18:00
  • 26. Janez Brajkovic, (SLO) Team RadioShack, at 18:00
  • 27. Damiano Cunego, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 18:00
  • 28. Julien Elfares, (FRA) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 18:00
  • 29. Dries Devenyns, (BEL) Quick Step, at 18:00
  • 30. Simon Spilak, (SLO) Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 29:00
  • 31. Christopher Horner, (USA) Team RadioShack, at 37:00
  • 32. Fabian Wegmann, (GER) Milram, at 41:00
  • 33. Staf Scheirlinckx, (BEL) Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 49:00
  • 34. , (NOR) Team Sky, at 55:00
  • 35. Pierrick Fedrigo, (FRA) BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 02:00
  • 36. Cyril Gautier, (FRA) BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 02:00
  • 37. Christian Knees, (GER) Milram, at 02:00
  • 38. Amaムl Moinard, (FRA) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 02:00
  • 39. Julien Loubet, (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 02:00
  • 40. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 02:00
  • 41. Arkaitz Duran Aroca, (ESP) Footon – Servetto – Fuji, at 11:00
  • 42. Ruben Perez Moreno, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 43:00
  • 43. Laszlo Bodrogi, (FRA) Team Katusha, at 43:00
  • 44. Josホ Ivan Gutierrez Palacios, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 43:00
  • 45. Anthony Geslin, (FRA) Française des Jeux, at 43:00
  • 46. Francisco Perez Sanchez, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 43:00
  • 47. Jens Voigt, (GER) Team Saxo Bank, at 43:00
  • 48. George Hincapie, (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 43:00
  • 49. Evgueny Petrov, (RUS) Team Katusha, at 43:00
  • 50. Marcus Eibegger, (AUT) Footon – Servetto – Fuji, at 43:00
  • 51. Walle Jurgen Van De, (BEL) Quick Step, at 43:00
  • 52. Tristan Valenttin, (FRA) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 32:00
  • 53. Laurent Didier, (LUX) Team Saxo Bank, at 32:00
  • 54. Steven Kruijswijk, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team, at 32:00
  • 55. Andrホ Steensen, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank, at 32:00
  • 56. Wesley Sulzberger, (AUS) Française des Jeux, at 32:00
  • 57. Svein Tuft, (CAN) Garmin-Transitions, at 51:00
  • 58. Diego Julissi, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 58:00
  • 59. Peter Stetina, (USA) Garmin-Transitions, at 46:00
  • 60. Dario Cioni, (ITA) Team Sky, at 46:00
  • 61. Bram Tankink, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team, at 46:00
  • 62. Craig Lewis, (USA) HTC-Columbia, at 02:00
  • 63. Brent Bookwalter, (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 02:00
  • 64. Maxim Gourov, (KAZ) Astana, at 02:00
  • 65. Will Routley, (CAN) , at 02:00
  • 66. Danilo Wyss, (SUI) BMC Racing Team, at 02:00
  • 67. Brian Vandborg, (DEN) Liquigas-Doimo, at 02:00
  • 68. Danny Pate, (USA) Garmin-Transitions, at 02:00
  • 69. Franヘois Parisien, (CAN) , at 02:00
  • 70. Nicki Sorensen, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank, at 02:00
  • 71. David Le Lay, (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 02:00
  • 72. Michael Rogers, (AUS) HTC-Columbia, at 02:00
  • 73. Markel Irizar Aranburu, (ESP) Team RadioShack, at 02:00
  • 74. Nikita Eskov, (RUS) Team Katusha, at 02:00
  • 75. Luca Mazzanti, (ITA) Team Katusha, at 02:00
  • 76. Sandy Casar, (FRA) Française des Jeux, at 02:00
  • 77. Daniel Oss, (ITA) Liquigas-Doimo, at 02:00
  • 78. Dennis Van Winden, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team, at 02:00
  • 79. Julien Berard, (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 02:00
  • 80. Yukiya Arashiro, (JPN) BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 14:00
  • 81. Jホrホmy Roy, (FRA) Française des Jeux, at 14:00
  • 82. Fabio Jfelline, (ITA) Footon – Servetto – Fuji, at 14:00
  • 83. Karsten Kroon, (NED) BMC Racing Team, at 14:00
  • 84. Anthony Charteau, (FRA) BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 14:00
  • 85. Thomas Voeckler, (FRA) BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 14:00
  • 86. , (SWE) Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 48:00
  • 87. Dominique Rollin, (CAN) , at 48:00
  • 88. Mathieu Perget, (FRA) Caisse D’Epargne, at 32:00
  • 89. Angel Jmadrazo Ruiz, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 32:00
  • 90. Christopher Sutton, (AUS) Team Sky, at 32:00
  • 91. Alberto Losada Alguacil, (ESP) Caisse D’Epargne, at 32:00
  • DNF David Jboily, (CAN) , at HD
  • DNF Steven Cozza, (USA) Garmin-Transitions
  • DNF Timmy Duggan, (USA) Garmin-Transitions
  • DNF Martijn Maaskant, (NED) Garmin-Transitions
  • DNF Johan Van Summeren, (BEL) Garmin-Transitions
  • DNF Jorge Azanza Soto, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • DNF Gorka Izagirre Insausti, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • DNF Miguel Jminguez Ayala, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • DNF Alan Perez Lezaun, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • DNF Joost Posthuma, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team
  • DNF Tom Stamsnijder, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team
  • DNF Maarten Tjallingii, (NED) Rabobank Cycling Team
  • DNF Miguel Moreira Paulinho Sergio, (POR) Team RadioShack
  • DNF Yaroslav Popovych, (UKR) Team RadioShack
  • DNF Valerio Agnoli, (ITA) Liquigas-Doimo
  • DNF Davide Jcimolai, (ITA) Liquigas-Doimo
  • DNF Kristijan Koren, (SLO) Liquigas-Doimo
  • DNF Elia Jviviani, (ITA) Liquigas-Doimo
  • DNF Mauro Facci, (ITA) Quick Step
  • DNF Kevin Hulsmans, (BEL) Quick Step
  • DNF Jホrルme Pineau, (FRA) Quick Step
  • DNF Kevin Seeldraeyers, (BEL) Quick Step
  • DNF Serge Pauwels, (BEL) Team Sky
  • DNF Morris Possoni, (ITA) Team Sky
  • DNF Davide Vigano, (ITA) Team Sky
  • DNF Anthony Roux, (FRA) Française des Jeux
  • DNF Jussi Veikkanen, (FIN) Française des Jeux
  • DNF Matti Breschel, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank
  • DNF Michael Morkov, (DEN) Team Saxo Bank
  • DNF Marco Bandiera, (ITA) Team Katusha
  • DNF Mikhaylo Khalilov, (UKR) Team Katusha
  • DNF John Gadret, (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale
  • DNF Cyril Dessel, (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale
  • DNF Ben Gastauer, (LUX) Ag2r La Mondiale
  • DNF Yuriy Krivtsov, (UKR) Ag2r La Mondiale
  • DNF Alfredo Jballoni, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini
  • DNF Enrico Jmagazzini, (ITA) Lampre-Farnese Vini
  • DNF David Loosli, (SUI) Lampre-Farnese Vini

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