While the battle for overall victory at the Vuelta a Espana is fought out in Spain, many of the best Classics riders in the UCI WorldTour will be in action in Canada at the one-day GP Cycliste de Quebec on Friday September 12 and then GP Cycliste de Montreal on Sunday September 14. The two testing races are the only UCI WorldTour races in North America and always produce spectacular racing and deserved winners.

The GP Cycliste de Quebec and the GP Cycliste de Montreal offer important points for the UCI WorldTour rankings, with the winners collecting 80 points. Other points are awarded to riders in the top ten on a sliding scale. Every point will be precious in deciding this year’s final rankings of the UCI WorldTour for individual riders, team and nations. The overall winners will be known after the Tour of Beijing in October, the last race on the UCI WorldTour calendar.

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) currently leads the individual rankings with 462 points after consistent success during the season in both one-day races and stage races. Compatriot Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is second with 407 points, while Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is third with 392 points. Movistar leads the team rankings thanks to Valverde and Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana. The Spanish team has a total of 1105 points and a significant lead on second placed Ag2r-La Mondiale (889 points) and third placed Tinkoff-Saxo (853). Spain is dominating the nations ranking with 1250 points.

Spectacular racing on hilly circuits 

The GP Cycliste de Quebec starts and finishes in the old city and covers 11 laps of an 18.1km circuit for a total race distance of 199km. Last year Robert Gesink of the Netherlands won with a powerful late surge, beating France’s Arthur Vichot and Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet, after a select group of riders formed at the head of the race.

The GP Cycliste de Montreal covers an equally tough circuit around Mount Royal and the University. The riders face 205km of racing with two climbs on each of the 17 12.1km circuits. Last year Peter Sagan of Slovakia soloed to victory after demonstrating his finishing speed on the rising road to the finish.

As ever, the two Canadian races will be a perfect tune-up for riders target the UCI Road World Championships at the end of the month. Current World Champion Rui Costa leads the Lampre-Merida team in Canada and has been given race number one to honour his world title. Costa is the first World Champion to race in the five-year-old Canadian races but is no stranger to the events, having won in Montreal in 2011.

“These are tough, very beautiful circuit races. They’re ideal preparation for the World Championships but above all they are important for your palmares. Montréal was the first major victory of my career in a one-day race,” he said.

Other big-name riders in action include the USA’s Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Australia’s Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring, Tour de France podium finisher Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. Tony Gallopin leads the Lotto Belisol team, while Bauke Mollema is the team captain of the Belkin team, and Michael Rogers and Matti Breschel lead Tinkoff-Saxo.

A Canadian national team completes the official start list of riders, giving their young riders a taste of racing against some of the best riders in the world.