Americans love making fun of Canada. I suppose that even the very fact that we call ourselves “American’s” and not “United Statesians” is a bit of a slap in Canada’s face, but the fact of the matter is that, apart from their odd unit of measure and equally odd postal system, there isn’t much wrong with Canada. In fact, Canada even hosts the only North American cycling event that we consider worthy of a VSP; the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. (That’s not entirely true; we consider the GP Cycliste Québec, which took place today, to be equally worthy, but we got our timing wrong and everyone knows that revising your model is better than admitting you made a mistake.)
The eastern part of Canada has it all: hills, towns filled with a European atmosphere, and – most importantly – cycling fanatics. Indeed, this is a serious race which boasts serious statistics; with 4,000 meters of climbing over 200 kilometers, it surely stands alongside classics like La Doyenne in terms of sheer difficulty. But unlike the classics and more like a World Championship course, the GP Cycliste Montréal is contested over a circuit, which is good for the fans and gives the riders ample opportunity to decide where they will launch their winning move or, more likely, which of the steep hills will stamp their ticket to the Hurt Locker when the spindly Dutch climbers move to the front and pump up the jam.
But knowing a few things about a course doesn’t make picking a winner any easier. If GP Cycliste Québec showed us anything, it’s that always gambling on the Big Rider with the Big Name doesn’t assure one of getting any points. Besides, what’s the fun in always picking the same bloke? Take a look at the start list, because the geniuses over at the UCI Scheduling Committee made sure to schedule this in conflict with the Vuelta, so not everyone you want to see will be on the startlist. Use your Powers of Deduction™ to decide your Top V, fill in the blanks and pick up an Obey The Rules bumper sticker for your trouble.