PHOTO | Incredible week end sport for Montreal

MONTREAL - Ryder Hesjedal was four seconds short of a victory in the inaugural Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, but he said he couldn’t be disappointed with his third-place finish. “This has been an incredible weekend and, after everything I’ve accomplished this year, I couldn’t be happier,” said the 29-year-old from Victoria, who also finished fourth in another UCI Pro Tour race in Quebec. “I came into these races with the No. 1 bib and I think my team (Garmin Transitions) helped me honour that.” The race was won by Dutchman Robert Gesink, who attacked on the ascent up Mount Royal on the 16th and final lap and then held off all challenges over the final 10 kilometres of the 193.6-kilometre race. “When Robert made his move, I though there was still plenty of race left to catch him and we had a good group to work with, but he rode a very strong race,” Hesjedal said. The Canadian, who finished an impressive seventh in the Tour de France earlier this year, appeared headed for a second-place finish but was caught at the finish line by 20-year-old Slovak Peter Sagan. “The race really began with five laps to go,” said Gesink, who improved on his third-place finish in Quebec. He said Rabobank teammate Maarten Tjallingii helped set the stage by riding with the breakaway group through the first half of the race. “I looked at the course for the first time yesterday and I thought the best place to make my move was on the climb up the mountain because there was a chance to make up some time,” Gesink said. “It was perfect for me because it’s one long climb. In Quebec, there were a lot of shorter climbs. Once I opened the lead, I just hoped I could keep it. It was very difficult.” Gesink said he wasn’t sure whether he was going to win until he reached the hairpin turn on Parc Ave. before the final climb to the finish line. That allowed him to see the gap to the riders chasing him. “This is one of the highlights of my career because I’ve never won a one-day race before," said the 24-year-old Dutchman, who collected about $21,000 for the win. Sagan earned $10,000 while Hesjedal boosted his winnings in the two races to about $13,000 when he won third place and finished as the top Canadian. Hesjedal was also selected as the most combative rider for launching an attack on the 15th lap. Angel Madrazo Ruiz of Spain, who was among those in the first breakaway, was the top climber. Organizers got lucky with the weather. There was a threat of rain, but the first drops didn’t fall until 40 minutes after the last rider crossed the finish line. The race was run under generally overcast skies with moderate temperatures. Team Radioshack took the team honours, followed by Lampre-Farnese Vini and Team Quick Step. While a makeshift Team Canada did well in Quebec, placing ninth among 22 teams, the Mount Royal course proved more difficult and the team placed last. Hesjedal’s Garmin teammate, Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., placed 57th and only three other Canadiens finished the race. Will Routley of Whistler, B.C, was 65th; Francois Parisien of Repentigny was 69th; and Dominique Rollin of Boucherville was 91st. Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, the winner of the Quebec race Friday, was 85th and 2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Spain was sixth. Italian Ivan Basso, one of the favourites, did not start because of illness. He failed to finish the Quebec race. Read more:
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Hanno contribuito: Anna Maria Barone, Frank Verrillo, Margherita Rainone, David Verrillo
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