Bad luck prevented the young Czech from fighting for a good result in the Canadian World Tour race.
Etixx – Quick-Step rode the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (205.7 kilometers) on the same key as the previous one-day race of the week, in Quebec, where Petr Vakoč was the team's top finisher. Here, both he and Julian Alaphilippe were up to the challenge once a series of attacks ignited the race with two laps to go of the total of 16 the peloton had to cover on Sunday. Petr was part of a strong group of riders that extricated themselves from the bunch with around 22 kilometers left, going on to build a 15-second gap.
The move was a dangerous one, so it got chased down by the pack, but even though it was nullified before the final lap, attacks kept on coming and another group, this time with Julian Alaphilippe and Petr Vakoč, took off. Soon, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) accelerated and opened a substantial lead over his opponents, but the group caught him in the final kilometer, as a result of strong collaboration between the Etixx – Quick-Step duo, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
On the final corner of the race, just as the riders were fighting for the best position to tackle Avenue du Parc (560 meters, 4%), Petr crashed and saw his hopes for a good result go up in smoke. Julian took over sprinting duties and despite not having too much left in the tank after doing some long pulls at the front, he still managed to finish 10th, as the race was won by Van Avermaet ahead of Sagan and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).
"Today I was feeling pretty good and the entire team did a great job. With two laps to go I jumped into the break and tried to save energy for the closing kilometers. Then, inside the last 6 kilometers, I reacted to Van Avermaet's attack. We pulled hard behind Costa and reeled him in in the final kilometer, but unfortunately my wheel slipped and I found myself on the ground", a heartbroken Petr said after crossing the line. "It's not an easy moment, but I'll try to shrug off the disappointment and draw the positives from today's race: I had a good condition and was up there with the world's best riders. That's encouraging for the next races."
Sport director Davide Bramati made an analysis of Etixx – Quick-Step's Canadian week-end: "On Friday, we tried to shake up things by attacking in the final 30 kilometers. Today, we went once again to the attack and displayed a fantastic team spirit, but luck – which is important in cycling – wasn't on our side. I'm sure that without that crash, Petr would have been in the top 5. But we must leave this behind and return to Europe with confidence and optimism that we can have strong a finish to the season."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele