Peter Sagan (Cannonale) and Robert Gesink (Belkin) showed their class as riders and their form for the rapidly approaching UCI road race world championshps, with two different but equally spectacular victories at the Grand Prix Cycliste de QuÃ©bec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de MontrÃ©al in Canada.
Sagan has proved he is one of the world's best sprinters many times but won alone in MontrÃ©al after making a power attack on the Cote de la Polytechnique ascent with 6.5km. He held off a late chase from local hero Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) to celebrate victory with a wheelie.
Italy's Simone Ponzi (Astana) finished second after beating Hesjedal to the line. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) brought home the rest of the riders after an intense five hours of racing in the spectacular Canadian city.
"It was hard," Sagan said. "All the teams wanted to make it a hard race in the finale but I managed to attack alone on the last climb. I'm happy to have won in Canada. This is probably last WorldTour race of the season. Now my next goal is the world championships. I hope I'm ready."
Sagan's performance makes him the big favorite to win the world title in Florence, Italy on Sunday Spetember 29.
Gesink also looking good
Robert Gesink was perhaps a surprise winner of the sprint that decided the Grand Prix Cycliste de QuÃ©bec on Friday, in the open race of the Canadian double header. However the lanky Dutchman often performs well in North America: He won the Grand Prix Cycliste de MontrÃ©al in 2010 and is the only rider to have won both Canadian WorldTour races.
It was Gesink's first victory since taking overall success at the 2012 Tour of California. The Belkin ride out sprinted French national champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) and Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) after a high quality group of riders emerged in the finale of the race.
Favourite Peter Sagan opted to chase down a late attack by Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and had nothing left for the sprint and finished tenth.
"I'm really happy since my season so far has been really tough for me," Gesink admitted.
"It tried to do good in the Giro and I got sick then worked hard in the Tour but still didn't win any races. But I worked hard in the last few months to be good here and it's really nice to win."
"Guys like Sagan and Greg are normally much faster than I am, but it was a really tough race and everybody was really tired. The uphill sprint suits me and it all came together perfectly."
UCI WorldTour rankings
Sagan and Gesink scored 80 points for their victories in the one-day UCI WorldTour races in Canada.
Sagan now has a total of 491 points according to the latest calculations and is third in the individual ranking, while Gesink has a total of 121 points and is a more modest 38th place.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished out of the placings in both Canadian races but managed to retain the lead in the individual ranking thanks to the huge haul of points he accumulated during the first part of the season. The Briton dominated the Tour de France, won the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium du Dauphine and was second in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Froome has a total of 587 points. Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
is second with 507 points after his fourth place overall at the Vuelta
a Espana. Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is fourth behind Sagan
with 474 points and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is fifth with 460
points. Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) is
12th, with 257 points.
Team Sky continues to dominate the team ranking of the UCI WorldTour
with a massive 1421 points. The Spanish Movistar team is second with
1293 points and Russian squad Katusha is third with 1200.
Spain continues to lead the nations ranking with 1621 points. Italy is
second with 1052 points and Colombia continues to enjoy an excellent
season with 1011 points.