This year’s Grand Prix des Cyclistes de Montréal, now in its fourth edition, brings some of the strongest road cyclists in the world to Montreal on September 15. The officially-sanctioned UCI WorldTour race, reserved for top-level Men’s Elite riders, sees 21 teams from across Europe, Canada, the USA, the UK and Australia take on a rigorous course around picturesque Mont Royal Park.
Montreal’s race comes just days after the Québec City Grand Prix des Cyclistes (September 13-14), pitting riders against yet another challenge: 17 laps of a 12.1 kilometre circuit, totalling 205.7 kilometres in race distance and 229 metres in lap altitude difference. 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome leads the pack of 19 UCI ProTeam riders, who have raced in the the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and count Grand Prix des Cyclistes towards their annual global ranking – no one will be coasting through. Also in competition this year are of Canada’s 13 top road cyclists, including the Canadian National Team led by Zach Bell, 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal, and David Veilleux, the first-ever Québec-born rider to finish the Tour de France. Last year’s race lasted a gripping five-and-a half hours, with the first riders crossing the finish line in a group at the 5:28 mark.
Broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world, the Grand Prix des Cyclistes de Montréal can be watched in person anywhere along the route, including along the hill up Mont Royal, at the Montée Camillien-Houde lookout on Mont Royal, and at the start/finish line on Parc Avenue, just north of the Georges-Étienne Cartier Monument in the middle of the park. Before the race begins at 11 am, the 168 riders gather with the crowds in Jeanne Mance Park for official presentations and team picture-taking at 10 am. This year’s event also benefits the town of Lac-Mégantic, in recovery from a July 6 train tragedy: visit the Red Cross stands, where volunteers will be selling ribbons, bracelets and cycling jerseys to fundraise for the Solidarité Lac-Mégantic initiative.
The Grand Prix des Cyclistes tends to inspire the cyclist in all of us. Thankfully, making the switch from cycling spectator to participant (albeit at a more recreational pace) is simple in Montreal. The city’s many dedicated bike paths criss-cross the city in a network that can guide cyclists through downtown and to the west and east, from the Old Port to Parc Jean-Drapeau, or north to the Jean Talon Market and beyond. For getting around the city centre, the BIXI public bike network offers commuter-style bikes meant for short trips, while Tourism Montreal’s Bike Guide points out some of city’s go-to rental locations and specialized guided tours for more extensive rides around the city.
Grand Prix des Cyclistes Montreal, September 15