To say that I'm excited for the upcoming Québec City (Sept.10th) & Montréal (Sept. 12th) Grand Prix races is an understatement.
The city is over 400 years old and is the spectacular backdrop for a very difficult race. The undulating course consisting of some cobblestone sections with the finishing climb up the steep Grande-Allée will be more than challenging for the riders.
For us observers, it will be fun to watch. I was there in 2005 and remember it vividly as beautiful and especially crowded. Twenty-two ProTour teams are in and Canadian excitement is building steadily with the inclusion of Team Canada under the care of DS, Steve Bauer. The team is young & talented including: David Boily, Guilaume Boivin, Ryan Anderson, Bruno Langlois, Francois Parisen, Rob Britton, David Veilleux, Canadian National Champion Will Routley, Charles Dionne & Cervelo's Dominique Rollin will round out a very solid team. I'm liking classic specialist, Rollin who says he fancies the Québec City course drawing similarities with the Tour of Flanders but shorter. The forecast is for rain and Rollin relishes in it. Just look back at his astounding stage 4 win in the rain in the 2008 Tour of California (I posted it here). The Québecois hasn't found a contract for 2011 but I'm sure with a stellar performance, teams will come knocking.
The Montréal course is also technical and involves an old friend. The extinct volcano, Mount Royal will be climbed 15 times and provides the difficult & ideal location for the demanding historic course. Eddy Merckx won on a similar course in 1974 & crowned as World Road Race Champion. The 1976 Olympic Road Race was run here won by Sweden's Bernt Johansson. And, of course the Montréal World Cup Races for both Men & Women were run until recently. I'm glad it's back as I had the wonderful chance to see the Women's race back in 1998 (posted here).
Garmin-Transitions is sending Canadian's, Svein Tuft & Ryder Hesjedal to blast a hole in the Québec City ramparts for victory. Hesjedal looks to be one to watch. His credentials already Tour proven with his amazing & uplifting seventh-place finish. It was the best for a Canadian since Steve Bauer was fourth in 1988. His second place in Amstel Gold Race is another revelation that the quiet and determined Hesjedal, I believe, well be in the top ten. Canada's, Michael Barry is in too and will bring his domestique talents to a strong Team Sky.
The UCI granted a five-year ProTour license to the Quebec City & Montreal Race with a possibility of expanding to 2018. And, if that's not exciting enough, the 2015 World Championships could be held in Québec City. An extraordinary weekend upcoming, surely a proud moment and a fantastic feather in Québec's cycling cap!