When Chris demands, I must obey. So, here are my thoughts on how the GP Montreal will be won based on my intimate knowledge of the area and thorough riding of the course over the last few weeks.
First of all, this race has been referred to by many as being an Ardennes kind of race. However, the different hilly classics play out in different ways. Compare la Fleche Wallonne (ending on the Mur de Huy) to Liege or San Sebastien. The later two don't have uber selective finishes, so the race is won from a combination of attrition and tactical attacking near the finish. My impression is that the Quebec race, with it's challenging uphill finish will resemble FW, with a larger group battling it out on the final climb (this is based entirely on my inspection of the profile not on any actual knowledge). The Montreal race however, will resemble LBL or SS.
Here is the map/profile of the race on the flip:
The first climb on the circuit ("the Houde") is not easy, but will not be where the race is decided. ~2km at 7-8% average (depending on your source). Its last ~500m are pretty brutal at ~10-12%. However, as you come over the top, and down the other side, there is a head wind. Also the decent is a fast, straight road, but only moderately steep. Between the two climbs it is a false flat downhill on wide open roads. The second climb is short and steep, and is followed by a twisty technical decent ending with a 90 degree right hand turn. If this race is decided by an attack, I think that it will happen on this second climb. It's on small enough roads that if the attackers are willing to take risks on the decent, they could open up a decent gap. After the sharp right, they are on fairly wide open roads all the way to the start/finish, but based on my extensive experience living on Chemin Cote Ste Catherine, if there is any wind at all, it will get funneled into a wind tunnel travelling in the same direction as the race will be travelling, perfect conditions for a small break staying away to the finish.
Now for the really important issues...how my VDS team will crush all of yours.
Starting with the home town advantage, both Ryder Hesjdal and Dom Rollin are incredibly motivated to do well at these races. Dom has won the Canadian championships on the Quebec course (and is hunting for a contract) and the Motnreal course is perfectly suited for Ryder.
But incase a foreign type feels like showing up, I also have
- Sylvain Chavanel
- Ivan Basso
- Matti Breschel
- Chris Anker Sörensen
- Dries Devenyns and
- Mauro Santambrogio
Basically, I'm expecting at least 3 of the top 5 (ie all the placings we care about) to come from the above list.
Here's the start list...who do you have to fill out the last 2 places that we care about?