Tour de France champions, Olympic medalists and national champions from around the globe will compete on the streets of Quebec City and Montreal Friday and Sunday in these only two races on the 2011 World Tour circuit, a 27-race season highlighted by the Tour de France in July.
This is the second year for the Quebec City and Montreal grand prix races which help raise the profile of pro cycling in Canada. The World Tour is the highest level for professional cycling globally.
On Friday, the world-class field of riders will complete 16 laps of the 12.6-kilometre track in old Quebec City for a total of 201.6 km. The course is demanding even for the world’s best and extremely scenic for riders and spectators alike.
Thomas Voeckler, who wore in the yellow jersey for 10 days at this year’s Tour de France, won the Quebec City Grand Prix in 2010. The top Canadian was Ryder Hesjedal who finished fourth, only a second behind Voeckler.
On Sunday, the field will race around a 12.1-km course in downtown Montréal 17 times for a total of 205.7 km. Each lap starts with a demanding two-kilometre climb that will wear on the riders as the race progresses.
In 2010, Robert Gesink, a promising young Dutch rider, took the Montreal title and was joined by Hesjedal on the podium in third place.
Both the Quebec and Montreal circuits are tough, technically and demanding. They mimic the toughest one day races in the world. Quebec is an exciting, intimate race for spectators as it winds through the ramparts of old town. It features almost 3,000 metres of accumulative climbing over 16 laps.
The Montreal racecourse is already in history books having hosted the World Cycling Championships in 1974 where the famous Eddy Merckx became champion. The same course was also used during the 1976 Olympic Games when Swede Brent Johansson won gold.
The Montreal course is more demanding physically of the two with 17 laps and 3,900 metres of total climbing.
Hesjedal is once again expected to go for the win and a sure bet to contend podium finishes in both races.
Hosting world-class professional cycling races continues to raise Canada’s profile to the global sports audience, much like our other premier events such as the RBC Canadian Open, Rogers Cup, Honda Indy and F1 Grand Prix du Montreal.
Both of the Canadian grand prix races provide great exposure for Canadian cycling and for Canada. World Tour races are broadcast to very captive audiences in 60 countries around the globe. The races will be live on Rogers Sportsnet.
The professional cycling squad that I co-founded, Team SpiderTech powered by C10, will make its debut on the World Tour. This will be the first time that a Canadian professional trade team will compete on this level.
The team has raced in Europe for four months this year and was competitive in Tour of California, winning the King of the Mountains classification.
The team has received one of four wild card invitations to the Canadian Grand Prix and will be led by team captain and reigning national road race and time trial champion, Svein Tuft.