Ed. Note: This guest post about the Montreal Grand Prix was written in September by Alden Tanaka. Tanaka is one of those behind the scenes members of the NorCal cycling community that makes everything hum. He’s designed pro jerseys, spent a few years at Bell/Giro, managed the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference, and worked booths at Interbike. He’s also a damn fine crit and track rider when not working at his day job as a Silicon Valley design guru. You can enjoy his full photo gallery from the Grand Prix at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwdkpKY
Rather than take another trip to Vegas for Interbike, I decided to change things up this year and headed to Canada to see the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. It was a great event, on a spectacular course. I liked it a lot more than the Tour of California. Point to point stages mean you get one chance to see the race come by. A circuit race allows you get to see the riders a ton of times. You can stay in one spot, or walk the course to mix things up. It reminded me a lot of the former SF Grand Prix. The course was a bit smaller, which meant that we saw the riders every 15-20 minutes.
I won’t get into the race details, as you can read that on all of the usual cycling websites. There were a few early attempts to get away, a day long break, a chase, some late attacks, and a winning move. The final chase came tantalizingly close. To see the urgency and desperation on the riders’ faces up close as they went under the 1km to go flag was pretty special.
2. WorldTour climbers are skinny as hell. I saw a pic of someone from Québec, and what I thought initially were pecks were actually his RIB CAGE. Laurens Ten Dam also looks like he could use a bucket of food. Yikes. Somebody help a brotha out with a fried chicken sandwich from Bakesale Betty.
3. Judging by all of the chalk and signs out on the course, Ryder Hesjedal was the popular home favorite. There were a few other random signs for Michael Barry, David Veilleux, Dominique Rollin and others, but Ryder was the fan favorite there. Barry’s attack on Mont Royal late in the race brought a large roar from the crowd. I spent the day spectating with Barry’s dad and one of his friends. Talk about a popular guy—we stopped regularly when folks recognized him. He used to have a bike shop, build frames, promote races and volunteer with juniors in and around Toronto. It was easy to see how he had such a reach with folks.
4. There were no idiots in stupid costumes running way too close to riders and/or running in front of you as you were trying to shoot photos. No antlers, no syringes, no Borats—nothing. I saw one kid run next to the riders, but that was it.
5. Montréal needs to resurrect the women’s event (they used to hold a women’s World Cup race on a similar course using Mont Royal in the past). I didn’t go to Québec, but from what I’ve heard, that course would be good too. The only problem would be the timeframe. The men’s race started at 11 am, with the team cars getting there at 10:15 am. The race finished around 4:15 pm. A women’s event would have to start pretty early. It could be done.
6. All of us take cycling news race reports for granted. Media people work HARD to bring you the news in a timely fashion I stepped into the media tent after the race and saw the madness. Writers cranking out their stories to make deadlines, photographers shooting pics, recording the press conference, etcetera (including NorCal’s own Lyne Lamoroux). Hell, I even saw VeloNews’ Neal Rogers wait for Rui Costa at drug testing to get a quick interview. Whatever it takes. Thanks to all of these hard working folks for bringing us the timely news.
This was a great event. Short of a World Championship, this is your best chance to see the European peloton in North America. If you can make it up to Québec and Montréal next year, do it.
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