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Australian champion wins in Canada
Sep 8th, 12. Australian Road Champion Simon Gerrans outpaced his companion from a late attack to win the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec as race favourite Peter Sagan just missed the catch.
The Orica GreenEdge rider, winner of the Tour Down Under in January and Milan San Remo in March, surged cunningly in the finale on the wheel of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to outwit the Belgian on the line.
Third place went to Portugal's Rui Costa (Movistar), the Montreal Grand Prix winner last year, who outsprinted the bunch in the last stretch for third place.
Pre-race favourite Sagan (Liquigas) looked like he was about to bridge the gap in the last kilometre, but he did not have any strength left and let the Australian and Belgian battle it out for final victory.
"It was pretty exciting," said Gerrans. "I certainly stayed quiet for most of the race and gave it everything in the last 5km. We held the peloton off so I'm obviously very happy. It's fantastic. It's one of the hardest races in the calendar."
Early attacks in the 201.6km World Tour one day race gave way to an eight-rider break that was caught with two of the difficult hilly laps left to race. Relentless counter-attacks followed. As teams repeatedly sent riders up the road, Gerrans calmly bided his team in the bunch.
"This circuit is a tough little circuit," Gerrans noted. "There are a lot of corners. It's always going up and down. We started out especially fast today and made the race quite difficult. There were a lot of tired guys at the finish.
"I stayed quiet most of the race," he added. "I really gambled on it being back together for the last lap."
Just inside the final 4km, Van Avermaet made his move. Gerrans jumped to respond. The duo worked together to distance themselves from their chasers. Sagan posed the biggest threat as he jumped from the bunch and nearly bridged across.
"I attacked with everything I had and got away with Greg," explained Gerrans. "I saw Peter was really close behind us, and I know how fast he is. I kept the break with Greg moving to make sure that Peter didn't get back on."
Inside the final kilometre, Gerrans and Van Avermaet had a small gap on Sagan and the chasing field. Around the final corner, Gerrans lead Van Avermaet towards the line. Van Avermaet opened the sprint. Gerrans came around him with enough time to celebrate his victory in Old Québec.
"We just managed to hold them off," said Gerrans. "I'm happy to have pulled off the win. It's a great feeling to be riding strong at the end of the season."
Kiwi George Bennett (RadioShack Nissan Trek) was one of 61 riders, including pre-race favourite Edvald Boasson Hagan (Team Sky) who DNF.
The riders now turn their attention to Sunday's Montreal Grand Prix, another UCI World Tour event.
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