Benoot and Maassen have fond memories of Canadian races
As the Vuelta draws to a close and racing on British soil continues, there are two more races in Canada this weekend: the Grand Prix of Quebec and the Grand Prix of Montreal. Tiesj Benoot and Frans Maassen look ahead to the two WorldTour races.
The two races are always considered the ideal preparation for the World Cup. But this year is different. As the peloton travels to North America for races in Quebec (this Friday) and Montreal (this Sunday), the World Championships are already behind us.
“There is a chance of rain”, sports director Frans Maassen says. “That could well affect the course of the race. In recent years, these races have often been decided on the last lap. I wouldn’t dare predict that it will be the same this year. It could be a very open race that gets tough early on. That’s fine with us. We have a strong group ready to fight for the prizes.”
The 58-year-old coach is referring to Christophe Laporte and Benoot, amongst others. The course of the GP Québec comprises 16 laps of just over 12 kilometres long, for a total distance of more than 200 kilometres. “It seems that riders with a good punch have a good chance of winning here. Christophe is a rider who can perform well on a course like this. And the race on Sunday better suits Tiesj”, Maassen says.
Benoot concurs. “Compared to the three thousand in Quebec, the race in Montreal has a few more altitude metres. That makes it more of a climbers’ race. The final lap often decides the outcome. As a team, we have to be on our toes all day long to be able to fight for the podium. The race might break open early, especially if it rains. That’s fine with me. I feel I’m ready and am really confident. I have completed this race three times before.”
“The shape is also good”, Benoot continues. “I did the Bretagne Classic last week. It was my first race after not racing for four weeks. I was able to fight for the win, so that’s a good sign. I took a break after the Tour and the World Championships. I noticed that I was suffering a bit from decompression. Along with my family and friends, I attended a training camp. There, I was able to do the necessary work and enjoy myself. As a result, I started the last part of the season with renewed courage. If I feel comfortable in the race and can do my own thing, I can get good results in these two races.”
"The shape is good"
Robert Gesink has already won both races. Ten years ago the Dutchman won the Quebec Grand Prix. Maassen remembers it as if it were yesterday. “It was a beautiful victory that came completely unexpected. Robert attacked but was caught. At that point, I didn’t think he would win. But he managed to bounce back and stay in the front group. In the sprint, he attacked early and miraculously pushed his bike over the line first. The joy was immense.”
In Canada, it will be the last time that the name of Rohan Dennis will be on the list of participants. His participation, however, is in doubt because of a persistent physical ailment brought on by his World Championships crash. “We appreciate the fact that he came here. It shows how professional Rohan is. We don’t have many riders to choose from at this time of year, mainly because of the number of races. Rohan is here exclusively for the benefit of the team. He never hesitated and was ready to help the team when the situation called for it. He would have deserved a nicer farewell, but it is the way it is”, Maassen concludes.
Line-up Team Jumbo-Visma GP Québec (8-9) and GP Montréal (10-9)
Mick van Dijke
Tim van Dijke
Tosh van der Sande