Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Australian Cyclist Matthews Beats out Hard-Luck Belgian for Quebec Win

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Australian Cyclist Matthews Beats out Hard-Luck Belgian for Quebec Win

Article excerpt

Australian cyclist captures Quebec Grand Prix

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QUEBEC - Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet just can't take that last step.

With the winner of the previous two Grand Prix cycling races occupied (three-time world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia), the path seemed to be open for his perennial rival in the twin Quebec-Montreal event.

But it was not to be, with Van Avermaet finishing in second place for the third straight time, edged out in a sprint to the finish line by 27-year-old Australian Michael Matthews, riding for Team Sunweb. Jasper Stuyven of Belgium finished third.

Matthews finished third in last year's race, and second in 2015.

"It's a massive relief but also the feeling of everything coming together and finally getting to put my hands in the air. This is the second time this year. So it's a really nice feeling," Matthews said.

Matthews credited his strategy for winning the race to his countryman and cycling idol Simon Gerrans, who won the Quebec and Montreal stages in 2014 and Quebec in 2012. Gerrans, 38, who finished 90th in the race, has announced his retirement from pro cycling at the end of the season.

Van Avermaet admitted he was frustrated by the third second-place finish, saying "it always seems there is someone who is a bit faster" in the sprint to the tape. He said he's "looking at the positive" as he heads into the Montreal stage Sunday.

Guillaume Boivin was the top Canadian for the third straight time. His 21st-place finish was just off his best of 17th in 2016. He blamed his lower position on a collision near the end of the race that caused him to hit the brakes.

An upset was in the works in the final stretch of the last lap. Englishman Peter Kennaugh broke out a wide lead but faded as the pack revved up and hunted him down. He ended up finishing in 53rd place.

Up until the final two laps, a breakaway group of five riders, including Robert Britton of Regina, Bruno Langlois of Matane, Que. …

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