Pogačar outsprints Van Aert to win GP Montréal

Tadej Pogačar once again showed his versatility.

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This story originally appeared on VeloNews.

Tadej Pogaçar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal in a thrilling five-rider sprint ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), and Andrea Bagioli (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).

The wining moves were played on the final lap of the race with Dani Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) attacking on the last major climb before the finish. After a stellar workload from UAE Team Emirates it was Pogaçar who responded with just over 11km to go. The former Tour de France winner brought Bagioli, van Aert, and Martinez with him as Romain Bardet set off in pursuit with a handful of riders. 

As soon as Bardet and company made contact it was the turn of Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) to launch his move with 10km to go and this time only Pogaçar, David Gaudu, van Aert and Bagioli could keep pace. At one point it looked as though van Aert would miss out on the move after he let a small gap expand near the top of the climb but as the leaders tore down the descent they began to work together as a cohesive quintet. 

The shared work continued until just over 3km to go when Yates and Gaudu launched their final attacks before the finish but with 1km to go the race was destined to end in a group sprint. Gaudu hit the front first but was quickly drawn back by Pogaçar, who had van Aert on his wheel.

However, the Belgian simply didn’t have the legs to pass the Slovenian, who hung on to take a huge win ahead of the UCI Road World Championships.

“It was not just the sprint, all the race was super hard and the team worked super good. It was perfect in the end, it was difficult because we know that Wout is one of the best sprinters in the world but this is a tough finish and I believed in myself and I gave it everything and I succeeded. It’s incredible,” said the winner.

“It was a really good course, I enjoyed it a lot and I was having a good day.“It was one of the hardest races in the calendar, you have to be shape in here. After the Tour I was not in good shape, I was relaxing and building up to this final part and today was a super good day so I’m really happy and confident to go to the World Championships.

“With the national team, it is always a bit trickier but I’m confident I’m in good shape. It’s not so hard course this year but for sure it’s going to be a tough race and I cannot wait to go there,” Pogacar added.

Adam Yates finished fourth, with Gaudu rounding out the top-five.

How the race unfolded

The early stages of the race saw a group of six comprising of Théo Delacroix (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux), Antonio Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Eddy Finé (Cofidis), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ), and Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) clip clear of the main field.

The group built up a lead of over five minutes before UAE Team Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers, and Jumbo-Visma began to lead the charge.

It was Pogaçar’s UAE squad that did most of the damage as first Nibali was dropped by the break with Finé following suit soon after. With just under 50km to go the break was down to four riders and the gap at 2:40 as Leknessund pushed clear on one of the relentless sets of climbs.

By then Peter Sagan had abandoned the race with Michael Matthews swinging off the back of the peloton too as UAE began to increase the pressure.

Duchesne, riding his final race as pro, was caught from the break with 43km to go having secured the mountains classification as a parting reward after such a long career.

Delacroix and Vermeersch were caught with 35km to as Jumbo-Visma took control of the main field, with Leknessund maintaining an advantage of 1:26.

A crash took down American rider Neilson Powless and Andrea Piccolo with 28km to go as Leknessund clung to a slender 35 second lead. Jumbo-Visma put Christophe Laporte to the front to keep the pace as high as possible and with Pogaçar down to just one teammate it looked as though van Aert had the late advantage.

Leknessund was eventually caught with 23km to go as Magnus Cort hit the front with Matthews once more put in difficulty, as another pre-race favorite in Jasper Stuyven was dropped from the back of the field.

Simone Velasco and Frederik Wandahl broke clear with 20km to go and built up a 40-second lead by the time the final lap started as more teams began to help with the chase.

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