Tag Archives: ProTour

Grand Prix Cycliste 2010 – Quebec City

As I mentioned in my previous post, we traveled to Canada earlier this month to watch the Grand Prix Cycliste in Quebec and Montreal. This is my account of the Quebec trip.

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Route marker for the race.

I had heard so many people say such wonderful things about Quebec. Mainly the comments were that Quebec is like stepping into a European town. They were exactly right!

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My only concern was the language barrier. I only say this because I took a required two years of French in High School and it was not something I did well at and have forgotten anything I might have learned. I found that most people were perfectly willing to speak English to us, even though I was under the impression that some felt if you didn’t try to speak French they would just give you the cold shoulder. I did not find this to be the case at all.

So our morning started off with a simple continental breakfast at the hotel then a walk to Starbucks for some decent coffee. Luckily I speak the international language of Starbucks!

As we stood in line at Starbucks it was apparent that many of the ProTour riders were also there for a bit of caffeine prior to the upcoming race. Then I gazed down the line only to see George Hincapie and Chad Beyer in line. Soon Jens Voigt also joined them at the end of the line. They were gracious enough to allow me to get a photo of them with my friend Suzy so early in the morning.


Jens Voigt, Chad Beyer, Susan Hall, and George Hincapie.

My only regret at that moment was not bringing my CSC jacket with me. I had brought it to Canada in search of Jens to sign it. A few years back, at the Tour de Georgia, I was lucky enough to have Bobby Julich and other team members sign it. That was the last year CSC sponsored the team before it became Saxo Bank. It was also the last year that Bobby Julich raced. Jens was part of that team then, too, so it only seemed fitting that his signature be on this jacket as well.

After grabbing coffee we headed out to walk some portions of the course to scope out vantage points for taking photos. There were very few people milling about at that time so it was lovely to walk along the quaint streets without the throngs of people that would later line the streets during the race.

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Streets barricaded for the race.

It was then time to check out of the hotel and head to the race start for the team presentations. Having never seen the team presentations, I expected it to be a bit more organized than it was. The riders seemed to flow in casually. In fact Team Radio Shack signed in with only 6 of its 8 riders. I noticed that Horner was one of the riders missing. He and another member showed up a bit later and stood for their applause. It was actually a funny moment.

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Zubeldia and Irizar

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Irizar and Popovych

I love the two photos above and wonder what the story behind them was. Was it Irizar’s plan to get into the break, which he did, and who he could convince to go with him? Or was he laughing at a prank he played on Horner and Brajkovic, causing them to be late?

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Chris Horner and Jani Brajkovic showed up later than the rest of the team.

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Dominique Rollin (left) riding for the Canadian team powered by Spider Tech received a huge round of applause.

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Jens also received a big round of applause. Always a crowd favorite!

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Tom Stamsnijder, Steven Kruijswijk, and Maarten Tjallingii.

Once the team presentations were complete we wanted to head out onto the course to set up for photos. Along our walk we saw the team cars lined up with a few of the cyclists milling about.


Team cars lined up and ready to go.

Of course I stopped at the Saxo car to see Jens again. He was in the process of casually repairing his shoes and entertaining the crowd at the same time.

I wasn’t sure if he would be signing autographs when he was done but he did. So I whipped out my CSC jacket for signing. I also wanted to have my photo taken with him. He said, “Hey, didn’t we already do this earlier?” I replied, “Yes, but I wasn’t in the photo!” (Jens remembering me from Starbucks was the highlight of my day!)

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Me and Jens.

I previously mentioned Bobby Julich, who is one of my all time favorite riders and I was so sad when he retired from cycling. So I was thrilled to know he was at this event. Even though I didn’t get a chance to have a photo with him my husband did snap some pictures of him for me!

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Team Saxo Bank Director, Bobby Julich.

Then it was off to the job of photographing the race. We set up on the first climb, Cote de la Montagne, for a few laps. There were tons of people but we managed a few good spots for photos before moving further along the course for more photos. Doing this meant better photo opportunities because there were fewer people. It also gave us different angles of the riders throughout the race.

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Quebec City lent itself to a very technical course of winding roads on somewhat narrow streets, with a few challenging climbs.

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Always a sign of a big race when a helicopter is in the sky for live feeds of the race.

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I was so thankful for Twitter while we were in Quebec. Between the Grand Prix Cycliste, Podium Insight, and BMC Racing I felt like I had a little bit more inside information to the race and what was going on compared to what we could see out on the course. Following these individuals also proved invaluable at the Montreal race as well.

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The crowds at the finish line.

As the race was nearing its end we walked our way along the course back to the start/finish line. While waiting for the race to end we started talking with a lovely man from the area. He wanted to know where we were from and once we told him he mentioned he had visited Old Orchard Beach when he was younger. (Old Orchard Beach is approximately 20 miles south of Portland and a summer haven for Canadian tourists.)

We told him how much we loved visiting his city and he was also more than happy to give us the rundown on Quebec City and all the various events they have going on throughout the year that was should come back for. It was such a pleasure speaking with him. It’s always nice to meet friendly locals who are proud of their city and get so excited to tell you all the wonderful things about where they live.

All in all, the Quebec race was well attended for a Friday. There was not a lot of action within the race except for the last few laps. Thomas Voeckler of BBox ended up winning the race. Later he said that he went off the front and didn’t believe he’d be able to manage the lead as he approached the finish. But the chasers didn’t seem to get organized enough to chase him down. We did watch the race the following weekend on Versus and the look on Voeckler’s face said it all.

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Rollin after the race rollin’ back to the hotel.

The barricades along the streets would be up for a while after the race, which meant we were blocked into the Hotel parking lot, we decided to grab some dinner before heading to Montreal for the remainder of the weekend. Just as we made our way back to the parking lot they were taking down the barricades and we departed on our 3-hour drive to Montreal.

We all felt like we were short changed with our visit to Quebec City. Not only does my husband want to go back for Winter Carnival, but next year we’ll go to Quebec City on a Wednesday and travel to Montreal on Saturday to allow for more time and sight seeing.

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A fan along the route.

Obviously it was impossible to post all our 800+ photos here on the blog. Click HERE to see all our photos from Quebec.

I’ll be posting my account of the Montreal race in my next post. Stay tuned!

Oh Canada

A while back, somehow, my husband found out about the Grand Prix Cycliste. This was a 2-day (non-consecutive) race taking place in the Quebec Province of Canada. The first race was to be held on September 10th in Quebec City and the other was to be held in Montreal on September 12th.

Because this was a ProTour race that means that all the ProTour teams were required to send a squad. That meant some pretty big names would be there.

I’ve lived in Maine all my life. Maine is right next door to Canada but I’ve never been there. Neither had my husband, but he grew up in Florida so it was easier for him to say that. We thought this was a good excuse to head north to see two cities we found intriguing.

There is so much to report about our trip so I’m going to break it down into a couple different posts. In this post I’ll just give you some rundown of our plans and cover a few things we did while we were there.

Our plan was to leave early on Thursday and be in Quebec City by lunch time. It was a 5-hour drive. We’d spend one night there and right after the race we’d head to Montreal, a 3-hour drive. We’d spend three nights in Montreal and drive home Monday morning, another 5-hour drive. So yes, a lot of drive time but we like to drive and see the scenery.

Thursday

We arrived as planned on Thursday around lunch time. We pulled up to the hotel, got out, only to see George Hincapie and the rest of the BMC team rolling out for a training ride. At that point the magnitude of our trip really hit home and the excitement was overwhelming.

Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Chateau Frontenac, the most famous hotel in Quebec City, and where the ProTour riders and support staff were staying.

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Chateau Frontenac

After checking into our hotel we walked towards the Hotel Frontenac in search of a little lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was spent wandering around a bit then we went to watch the Sprint Challenge, a race for some Canadian racers where there were 6 heats, with 4 racers in each heat, including a neutral start and a 1K sprint for the line, with the top 2 finishers advancing.

Friday

After a little breakfast at the hotel we walked to the Chateau Frontenac once again. I had noticed a Starbucks there the day before and I was in search of some decent coffee. As we stood in line I said to our friend who had accompanied us on the trip that George Hincapie was also in line a little further down. Soon afterward, Jens came in. My friend was a bit shy but really wanted her photo with them. So I politely asked if it was too early to bother them for a photo op. They were all very gracious and obliged our request.


Jens Vogt, Chad Beyer, our friend, Susan, and George Hincapie.

We walked around a little after that (well, perhaps it was more like floating) before heading back to the hotel to get ready to watch the race. (I’ll cover the races in separate posts.)

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Team Cars lined up outside Chateau Frontenac before the race.

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Mural painted on the building on the race course.

As it turned out, our hotel was on the race course so with the barricades up along the course we were a bit trapped until they could take all that down after the race. We ended up grabbing some dinner before leaving so that gave the city some time to take down the barricades. Next time we’ll plan to stay the extra night after the race and head to Montreal Saturday.

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Rue St. Louis, one of the streets in the race route that ran right by our hotel.

Saturday

We didn’t wake up too early in Montreal after being up late the night before. When we did get up we ventured down to the old port section of town for some breakfast. It was a beautiful area and we enjoyed walking around a bit. There wasn’t much activity so we didn’t have an issue with parking or getting a table for breakfast.

Later that day we met our friend and her Montreal friend for a nice bike ride along the canal. It was a little unnerving to be along a path with two way bike traffic. And it was CROWDED! It took a little getting used to. We weren’t there for a training ride, which would have been hard to accomplish with the number of slow cyclists on the route. Our goal was to just enjoy being on the bikes and take in the scenery.

Sunday

Sunday was race day and we had a plan to walk the entire course for this race. We figured we walked about 16 kilometers that day and glad we did. We were able to get some of the best shots of the two races.

Monday

We got on the road early, as we typically do, and headed for home. I later found out on Twitter that there was a bike expo taking place that day with some of the riders from the events. Next time we’ll try to check that out!