Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sagan Wins Cycling Grand Prix on Breakaway with Canada's Hesjedal Third

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sagan Wins Cycling Grand Prix on Breakaway with Canada's Hesjedal Third

Article excerpt

Sagan wins cycling GP, Hesjedal third


MONTREAL - Ryder Hesjedal was happy to end a tough season on a high note.

Canada's top rider worked his way into the lead group on the final lap and came in third behind red-hot race winner Peter Sagan and Simone Ponzi at the UCI Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on Sunday afternoon.

Hesjedal has had his ups and downs since he became the first Canadian to win a major tour in 2012 by taking the Giro d'Italia, but he was in top form on home soil for what will be his final race of the year.

"This season, since abandoning the Giro and getting injured in the Tour de France, to end up third in this field and race the way I did _ not just follow -- I think I showed I wanted to challenge for the victory," the Garmin Sharp team leader from Victoria said.

Hesjedal matched his third place finish at the inaugural Montreal race in 2010.

A group of about 15 riders split from the pack going into the last of 17 laps of the 12.1-kilometre circuit up and down Mount Royal in the centre of the city. It included some of the world's best.

Tour de France champion Chris Froome was among several riders to try their luck as he shot out in front with six kilometres to go. He was passed by Dutchman Robert Gesink, who was coming off a victory in a race Friday in Quebec City.

Then the crowd lining the street course roared as Hesjedal surged to the front, only to see Sagan fly past him. The Slovak leader of the Cannondale squad built a 15-second lead and could not be caught.

Hesjedal went into high gear again just to make sure he made the podium.

Now he feels good about himself on the bike again.

"It's been a new experience since winning the Giro," he said. "I learned a lot and have gone through a lot of tough new experiences, but I showed today I can still race my bike and that I'm still improving. So I'm looking forward to next year."

Sagan beat Ponzi, of the Astana team, by four seconds and Hesjedal by five. Greg Van Avermaet, who was on the podium in Quebec City, was fourth. Gesink led in the peloton 26 seconds behind.

In Quebec City, Sagan tried the same final-lap move, but started too early and was overtaken. This time, there was no catching him.

"Hats off to Peter _ that was a strong move," said Hesjedal. "I didn't expect anyone to come around me on the Polytechnique (a climb near the University of Montreal engineering school) and there he went."

Hesjedal said he will not take part in the UCI world championships road race Sept. 29 in Florence because he is tired after a tough season.

Sagan struggles to speak English, but managed to describe his form on the day as "exquisite.

"The last lap, I felt very good," the Slovak rider said. "I saw other riders going too hard in the climb and I saw maybe I can try.

"I saw Ryder attack there. I was thinking when I come (into) the uphill, maybe we can go as two. …

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