We stay in Canada for the harder of the two one day races.
A crit race.
It is the main climb of the race. The last 700m are 9%.
Expect wet roads. It will be cold too. That means it will become more technical and therefore more of a elimination race.
How will the race unfold?
Last year, we had some of the best one day racers here with Pogacar and Wout van Aert participating. This year, we have the ones just below them and plenty of them. We either see reduced bunch sprints, where it is the one-day specialists who fight it out, or we see group sprints. Which scenario will we see later?
UAE has a very good team, they will look to ride offensively. A. Yates attacked on the climb last year, on the last lap. I think he will look to do so again, he does not stand a chance in the sprint. But they have others that do. Ullisi has won here before, same goes for Wellens. Hirschi also provides the team as an option, while McNulty will look to follow the early moves.
A lot of teams come here with attacking options. Cosnefroy (AG2R), Benoot (JV), Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) and so on. I think many teams after seeing the sprint from De Lie in Quebec does not want that scenario at all. Even for De Lie, this should be too difficult. I think we will see an attack on the penultimate lap or the last lap and they will stay away.
Hirschi – the form looks good enough to challenge for a win here. As he looks like he is back at his 2020-level, this race should not be too difficult for him. I think he is the fastest of the UAE-riders.
A. Yates – they likely won’t drop him but he will be one of the strongest on Côte Camillien-Houde which gave him a 4th place in 2022.
Wellens – he loves a rainy day. Does he still carry the form from Renewi Tour? I think he does. He hasn’t raced a GT this year, meaning he still has something left in the tank.
Benoot – I think he is the best option for JV. It should be too difficult for Laporte, who may get a shot if we see a reduced sprint. He will hope he can pull off a solo.
Skjelmose – a good crit racer. Has the punch, has the endurance and he has the sprint. He struggled in Glasgow on the wet roads, it had something to do with tire pressure. Hopefully, the team has fixed that. He is one of the big favorites.
Alaphilippe – 9th in Quebéc was a good indication. It all depends on his current level, something difficult to predict with him.
Mohoric – on the difficult side for him in terms of climbing. However, the rain will make his technical abilities give him an edge. He is also enjoying some very good late-season form.
Madouas – another rider enjoying some strong legs. He will look for a top-10.
Powless – a strong one-day racer. He is quicker in a flat sprint that you think.
Matthews – he will be the favorite if we see the reduced bunch sprint. He has two wins and seven top10s in eight editions.
⭐⭐⭐ Matthews, Hirschi
⭐⭐ Powless, Wellens, Mohoric
⭐ Madouas, Benoot, A. Yates, Alaphilippe
Who will win?
Very few riders are interested in a sprint against Laporte, Matthews and potentially De Lie. We will see a group sprint just like last year. I will take a win for Skjelmose.