Following on from his victory at the GP de Québec on Friday, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) made it two Canadian wins in two by out-sprinting Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) at the GP de Montréal.
Matthews becomes only the second rider to complete the Canadian double, following his Australian compatriot Simon Gerrans’ success in 2014.
Despite several attacks in the final three laps, the race boiled down to a bunch sprint of a large group.
The sprint was instigated early when Michael Valgren (Astana) attacked out of U-turn heading into the finishing straight. Sonny Colbrelli, as the rider on his wheel, was forced to follow the move, with Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Matthews the next three riders in line.
Colbrelli and Matthews both launched their sprints around 200 metres from the line, with the latter gradually closing the gap to the Italian, and just piping him at the line.
How it happened
Britain’s Owain Doull (Sky) was the only non-Canadian member of the day’s six-man break, which also featured: Hugo Houle (Astana), Nigel Ellsay (Rally Cycling), Adam Roberge and Charles-Etienne Chretien (both Canada National Team).
Their gap to the peloton grew to around 5-30 before plateauing, then gradually started to fall at around the halfway point of the race.
After steadying again at around 4-00, the gap plummeted again once Lotto-Soudal upped the pace at the front of the peloton, and stood at only 2-00 at the start of the 14th lap.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) was the first rider to attack from the peloton, going clear on the 14th ascent of the Côte de Camillien-Houde. That prompted a response from the peloton, with several counter-attackers attempting to follow the move, including Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), who used his descending prowess to strike out alone.
Moments after being joined by his Slovenian compatriot Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) with 30km left to ride, Mohoric caught up to the four remaining riders of the day’s break.
While they pushed on, a three-man counter-attack formed behind, consisting of Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), and managed to bridge the gap just after the start of the penultimate lap.
On the penultimate climb of Côte de Camillien-Houde, Mohoric, Polanc and Mühlberger went clear from the rest, and held a lead of 25 seconds over a Sunweb-led peloton at the summit.
The gap remained constant for several kilometres, until an acceleration from Marc Soler (Movistar) 19km from the line halved the deficit. A brief let-up in the pace followed upon Soler’s capture, until Sunweb – this time with assistance from BMC – resumed control.
The peloton had the three-man break in its sight at the bell, and the catch was made on the final ascent of Camillien-Houde. At this point Britain’s James Knox (Quick-Step Floors) attacked, and was soon joined by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) just before the summit, and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) just after it.
The trio lasted a few kilometres out in front, but were caught with just over 6km to go as Bahrain-Merida took over leadership duties at the head of the peloton.
A huge turn from Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) kept under control a flurry of late digs, including a dangerous-looking move from young Frenchman Benoit Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale) 1.5km from the line.
A tussle for the final U-turn ensued, from which Valgren made the final attack of the race before the sprinters had their way.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal 2018 (195.2km)
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, in 5-19-27
2 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
10 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, all same time