MONTREAL — A hard, final push by Adam Yates rewarded the British cyclist with a victory Sunday in the Montreal Grand Prix.
The UAE Team Emirates' rider fought off a challenge by Ineos Grenadiers’ Pavel Sivakov over the final 300 metres to take the 221-kilometre race, and also earn the top climber award.
Montreal's race started in pouring rain and offered a combined 5,000 metres in elevation changes for the 159 international riders.
"There's a lot of metres climbing and, in the end, it’s almost six hours so it’s a super-taxing day," Yates said after the race.
“The guys did a good job to look after me, and then we started to wind up with three or four laps left to go. The guys did an amazing job to set the pace real high.
"I’m not super explosive but I can do this sort of really heavy dual pace, so we knew if we could do this we’d have a better chance. In the last lap, I just went full gas.”
Israel-Premier Tech's Michael Woods from Ottawa was the top Canadian in 15th. The early downpour didn't help his day.
“It certainly makes the race more dangerous, more stressful,” Woods said before the start.
Belgium’s Florian Vermeersch of Lotto DSTNY held an early solo lead for nearly 15 laps with Astana Qazaqstan’s Manuele Boaro and Cofidis’ Harrison Wood in pursuit before the trio fell back into the peloton.
UAE Team Emirates had a clear plan with Yates taking his unique role in stride. He was almost invisible for much of the race before emerging at the front of the pack with just over three kilometres to go.
Runner-up Sivakov is slated to join Emirates next season.
“If I’m good enough, I’ll have opportunities,” said Sivakov. “It’s always good to be in a very strong team, so we’ll see. It will be a big change for me next year.”
Yates is working on his best season since 2019. He collected his first Tour de France stage win en route to finishing third overall.
He also won the Tour de Normandie and scored top-three results in the UAE Tour and Vuelta a Burgos.
“When the team sets out a plan and really focuses, it makes a big difference,” Yates said. “It’s been a good season, but it’s not over yet. Hopefully I get one more (victory) and then I can say it’s my most successful season.”
Local racing fans were fixated on the 36-year-old Woods and his Israel-Premier Tech teammates Hugo Houle of Sainte-Perpetue, Que., and Montreal's Guillaume Boivin.
Woods' climbing prowess made him a contender Sunday. He won the Tour de France's ninth stage this year.
“I wanted more than this. It’s too bad,” Woods said post-race. “I didn’t have the legs, but that’s life. I want to thank everyone who came out. It was incredible. The fans are always wonderful."
Montreal is the host city of the 2026 world cycling championships.
Sunday's race in Montreal and Friday's 201k race in Quebec City, won by 21-year-old Belgian Arnaud De Lie, were the only North American legs of the UCI's World Tour.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2023.
Ireland Compton, The Canadian Press