The top step of the podium continues to elude Van Avermaet, who has finished in the top ten in all eight participations, four times in second place, and today, his second time finishing in third place.
The peloton allowed six riders to go clear towards the end of the first of 16 laps of the 12.6-kilometer course and with the bunch sitting up, the advantage quickly increased to almost eight minutes.
CCC Team was one of a handful of teams to start chasing with Josef Černy hitting the front of the bunch after four laps, while the rest of the team surrounded Van Avermaet just behind.
Over the course of the next 100 kilometers, the peloton slowly brought the breakaway back and with the breakaway’s advantage down to three minutes with 60 kilometers remaining, riders started to attack from the peloton.
Van Avermaet remained well-positioned by his teammates approaching the finale and with the last of the breakaway riders caught approaching the final two laps, the race was well and truly on.
Łukasz Wiśniowski and Michael Schär led Van Avermaet at the front of the bunch inside the last 20 kilometers in a strong display of teamwork to position the Belgian to follow an attack by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) on the final climb of the day with a little over two kilometers to go.
Peter Sagan (Bora hansgrohe) joined Van Avermaet and Alaphilippe in what was a dangerous move but ultimately, the bunch made the catch with 500 meters to go, which allowed Matthews to launch his sprint and edge Sagan and Van Avermaet out of the win.
Van Avermaet’s third place in Quebec is another confirmation of his strong late-season form, following on from second place at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“I feel satisfaction after today’s race. This has always been a hard race and I was quite happy with how it went. We had to go deep with the attacks from Alaphilippe and after that, I was a bit worried for my sprint because if you go deep a few times that far from the finish, you lose a little bit of strength for the sprint. I had to go when Alaphilippe went so I think I made good decisions today and although it’s not a win, it’s always good to finish on the podium. I think my condition is there and to follow those guys on a parcours like this is almost the most important.”
“I think in the finish, the last four kilometers, of this race there is no time for recovery anymore and from the little left up, it’s really hard all the way to the finish and this is something that I can do really well. It’s a super nice finish for me and I think that’s why it is always the same guys up there and it is almost always the same podium because the top riders can do well in a finish like this. I think it is a really honest finish.”
“I like Montreal maybe a little bit more than here. I think it is super hard and I am happy they added some laps. Thinking about the Worlds and now with more altitude meters, it is a really good test. I am happy with the result from today but I think Sunday can be a really nice training to prepare for the Worlds.”
“The team was committed to helping bring the breakaway back and as I had finished on the podium here five times before the start, I wanted to take my responsibility at a race like this. We always take some guys to do the work at the beginning of the race and it is also our job to represent CCC on the front of the peloton. We can do a good job at that and make a good result like we did today.”
Steve Bauer, Sports Director:
“The team did a great job, I think everyone raced really well. Greg did a spectacular final, he matched the men he needed to match and did a great sprint. He didn’t really make any mistakes but Matthews had a bit of a surge coming from behind with the wind. Overall, it was a very position race for us. We put Josef Černy on the front to help reduce the gap and keep our guys in the race. Greg did his thing in the finale and everyone did a good job to put him there so I think it was positive. Of course, it’s not a win but a podium result is always a good result and it was a job well done from Greg.”
Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec
Quebec > Quebec (201.6km)
Top 3: 1. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), 2. Peter Sagan (Bora hansgrohe), 3. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team)
CCC Team top 3: 3. Greg Van Avermaet, 29. Simon Geschke, 47. Michael Schär