Bauke Mollema finished in fifth place after a hard and tactical Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal Sunday, improving on Jasper Stuyven's 18th place in Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, but still disappointed to miss out on the podium after he managed to create the final six-man selection that arrived at the finish.
"It was a hard race," explained Mollema. "I guess all the time they knew they had to make it hard, especially after the easy racing in Quebec, otherwise Sagan or Van Avermaet would win for sure."
As in previous years, the final selection was made on the last two circuits, with first a 16-man group breaking clear on the penultimate lap before Mollema attacked the final time up the Mt Royal climb to create an elite group of six.
Behind, Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) desperately tried to chase back the leading group and came within 10 seconds before the cohesion fell apart in the final three kilometers. No one wanted to pull the always dangerous Sagan back to the front.
Said Mollema: "With 1.5 laps to go I followed the attacks into a 16-man breakaway and in the last lap I gave everything on the big climb to get rid of as many guys as possible. With the six guys left, we worked well together.
"I made a mistake in the last corner, and I started the sprint already 25 meters behind. That was a pity, but honestly, this finish stretch in Montreal doesn't really suit me so I don't think it would have been a big difference. I am happy with the legs and feelings though with only two weeks ahead of the Worlds."
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) sprinted to the win in the uphill grind to the line, ahead of Jesús Herrada (Movistar) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac).