Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec’22: Cosnefroy Crushes them in Canada

The eleventh edition of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec was won by Benoît Cosnefroy. At the end of 201.6 kilometers of laps through Québec, the Frenchman of AG2R Citroën was the first to cross the finish line, after a successful attack in the final. Michael Matthews and Biniam Girmay joined him on the podium. Wout van Aert finished fourth.

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When Michael Matthews raised his hands for the second year in a row in 2019, he didn’t know that it would be Québec’s last Grand Prix until 2022. The race was canceled for two years due to the covid pandemic. The race was on an unchanged city course over 12.6 kilometers with four short, vicious climbs.

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Quebec GP 2022 profile

After some early skirmishes, a group of five riders managed to get away: Sébastien Grignard (Lotto Soudal), Stan Van Tricht (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Canadian Carson Miles, Hugo Toumire (Cofidis) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious). The quintet had 4 minutes on the peloton through the Parc de Champs-de-Bataille, along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, past the citadel and the iconic Château Frontenac. Miles picked up the mountain points. Back in the bunch, Jumbo-Visma, BikeExchange-Jayco and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert put men on the front. As expected, Wout van Aert, Michael Matthews, Biniam Girmay and the other favorites kept their powder dry for a long time. It was also no big surprise that Miles was the first to let the leading group go. Just under 60 kilometers from the finish, he was the first to be caught by the peloton. His colleagues would last a little longer, but they also had no chance for the victory. With 41 kilometers to go, Quinn Simmons opened things for Trek-Segafredo. Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) and Andrea Piccolo (EF Education First-EasyPost) went with him. As they crossed towards the leading group, two-time winner Peter Sagan stopped, along with home favorite Hugo Houle.

When the counter-attackers got to the front just under 30 kilometers before the finish, the peloton was not far away. At the start of the penultimate lap, the lead was only 8 seconds. They struggled for a while, but a regrouping was inevitable. David Gaudu was the next to try. His escape di lui did n’t last long, but his attack di lui shattered the front group. Wout van Aert had to make a serious effort to get to the front, as attacks continued. Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step-Alpa Vinyl), Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Neilson Powless (EF Education First-EasyPost) got away in the final lap. Storer didn’t want to wait for a sprint and went solo. But alone he proved incapable of surprising the large group. It had to be a sprint on the uphill finish. But Benoît Cosnefroy jumped on one of the climbs 2 kilometers from the finish and his attack was the right one. Christophe Laporte tried to close the gap on him, but failed. Under the 1K banner, things still looked good for Cosnefroy. Despite his fatigue, the Frenchman kept up his effort to the line. Matthews beat Girmay in the battle for second place, while Van Aert just missed the podium.

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Race winner, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën): “It’s incredible! It hasn’t sunk in yet. I had planned to attack exactly there. If that didn’t work out, we had Greg Van Avermaet to do the sprint. I am very happy because I did not necessarily expect to stay away for the last two kilometers. I gave it my all and was able to enjoy the last fifty meters. From an average season, I am moving on to an exceptional season. With six second places including the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Brabançonne, I was just waiting for this victory and it comes in one of the most beautiful races on the calendar, it’s huge. Many thanks to the public and the organization here. The whole international peloton was eager to come back and we are not disappointed. We will enjoy this and then focus on the Grand Prix de Montréal which suits me even better on paper. We will try to do well there, too.”

2nd, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco): “I’m probably disappointed at the moment, being so close to winning here three years in a row. It was my goal, and I came up second best, but it’s still a great result and I’m looking forward to Sunday. I guess everyone was probably looking at Wout [van Aert] to chase, as he was probably the favorite here today, and I think he had a rider in the group with Cosnefroy so it was a little bit a case of everyone playing a bit of poker. Unfortunately in the end we were sprinting for second, because Cosnefroy was just too strong. It is what it is, and I think we have to be happy with second, and we have another opportunity on Sunday. I think my shape is really coming along well towards the World Championships now, so I think another good hit-out on Sunday, and hopefully go for the victory again, before heading off to Australia.”

3rd, Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “I’m very happy with this third place at my first participation in the GP de Québec! It feels unreal to achieve a podium from such a strong field of riders with many of world’s best classic riders. The level was very high and the pace was hard from the start. Of course we expected a challenging race on this course with several tricky corners and the long and steep climb towards the finish. But actually my teammates did all the work for 90 percent of the race, I only had to focus on the final 500 meter. I want to thank them for their work, this achievement is also for them!”

4th, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “There were only strong riders here. For me it was better to race defensively. In a race like this you always have to see when you start. A strong rider like Cosnefroy only has one chance. There was a bit of hesitation after he attacked, after that it was very difficult to catch him. Still I’m not really surprised by Cosnefroy. We were hoping that Christophe could get into his wheel, but he was stranded at 10 metres. That’s where it went wrong. In our group there were many teams that gambled. When we rode into the last kilometer I already knew it was lost. I really enjoyed racing here (in Québec). It will probably be even tougher on Sunday. Riders like Tadej Pogačar, Romain Bardet and David Guadu will be closer to winning.”

Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec Result:
1. Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën in 4:46:56
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 0:04
3. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
4. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
5. Iván García Cortina (Spa) Movistar
6. Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
7. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
8. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic

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