While the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team had an unlucky run of affairs in the final of Paris-Roubaix, the third place of Dutch champion Niki Tersptra made up for some of that disappointment. Teammates Stijn Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar featured in the decisive breakaway move with eventual winner Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack Leopard) and Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) before getting knocked out of the group when they both collided with spectators on the cobbles of the Carrefour de l'Arbre.
Terpstra protected their presence up front in the chase group. When both riders were eventually caught and left behind, Terpstra went on to win the sprint for third place from Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Damien Gaudin (Europcar). When talking with the media after the race the 28 year-old Dutchman's hands showed the signs of a tough ride through the 'Hell of the North' with two nice blisters. Terpstra didn't mind much and figured they were two souvenirs of his splendid ride. Meanwhile his son was standing on top of the podium proudly sporting the medal of his father around his neck on top of the jersey of Dutch national champion.
"I wasn't on the highest step of the podium like my son," a smiling Terpstra said. "My dream is to win this race but I'm very happy with this third place too as I was really bad last week in the Ronde. Things were looking great for us as we had two men out of four up front. That allowed for a tactical game. But they crashed out which is really sad for them. It's good we were still able to salvage this third place. It's the result of a good team performance...
The often forgotten but ever-consistent Greg Van Avermaet came oh-so-close to standing atop the podium on a clear and chilly afternoon at the conclusion of the 'Hell of the North' but he ultimately fell short, finishing in fourth-place after being overtaken in the dying meters by Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step).
BMC Racing entered the 254.5km Monument as one of the team’s three leaders and while his two teammates Thor Hushovd and the aspiring Paris-Roubaix winner Taylor Phinney failed to feature at the finish, Van Avermaet’s result capped-off what has been another consistent start to the year for the 27-year-old.
His four-place put a end to the cobbled classics season ahead of what could well be an improved assault on the Ardennes. The 2011 Paris-Tours winner has demonstrated his versatility in both the cobbled and hillier one-day races for the past few seasons and appears poised to step up once again. But before any of that can happen, there's the disappointment of being unable to really celebrate his campaign with a final top result.
Van Avermaet entered the velodrome in Roubaix with Terpstra and Damien Gaudin (Europcar) - who won the prologue at Paris-Nice before crashing out spectacularly whilst wearing the race leader's jersey - and looked near certain to secure third-place but his line choice exiting the final bend left the door open and was arguably the wrong one to take as Terpstra took the shorter, lower approach to the finish.
"In the final sprint whoever is the strongest wins and so Terpstra took third," Van Avermaet told
Fabian Cancellara ended his spring Classics campaign with a rare Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix doubled and top spot in the UCI WorldTour rankings.
Cancellara scored 100 points for both of his victories, with the points he scored for winning on the pave perhaps gave him a little extra satisfaction by lifting him above rival Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling).
He now has a total of 351 points in the individual WorldTour ranking, with Sagan slipping to second with 312 points.
Overall victory at the Tour of the Basque Country that ended on Saturday lifted talented Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to fourth in the individual ranking. He has 182 points, with Ritchie Porte (Team Sky) third with 200 points thanks to his victory at Paris-Nice and second place in the Basque Country. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who topped the 2012 individual ranking, is currently fifth with 144 points.
Team Sky leads the team rankings thanks to their strong stage race results with 536 points. Cancellara's success has lifted RadioShack-Leopard to second place with 466 points. Katusha is third with 400 points. Spain leads the nations ranking, ahead of Switzerland (360) and Belgium (358).
With most of the cobbled classics riders taking a break, the stage racers are expected to climb up the rankings at the forthcoming Ardennes Classics. However, Sagan is also riding the Amstel Gold race and so could retake the lead before ending his own spring campaign.
Analysis of the good and bad after the Queen of the Classics
Cancellara’s spring conquest
“Mission accomplished” announced RadioShack-Leopard in a post Paris-Roubaix press release without even any hint of irony. But after the travails of 2012 and Cancellara's injury hit spring last year, it’s hard for even the most devout Boonen fans to begrudge Cancellara his dues this time.
At E3 Harelbeke he was dominating, at the Tour of Flanders he was merciless, then at Paris-Roubaix he was calculating and incisive.
Knowing that he’d be watched like a hawk Cancellara set out phase one of his Paris-Roubaix game plan early, using up teammates in the first half of the race in a bid to negate the threat of 2011 when a group was given too much room.
Each escape was given two minutes or less and when Cancellara’s men disappeared off the front, phase two began. A testing acceleration burnt off the likes of Hushovd, Boasson Hagen and Chavanel (who was forced to change bikes and chase) and brought a number of other contenders into Cancellara’s sights.
He was then able to measure who was a genuine threat but perhaps his best play came when he drifted back to the team car to liaise with Dirk Demol. Half the lead pack carried on racing – like they should – but Boom, Eisel and Terpstra slowed too. It provided the opportunity to eliminate a further three rivals with one attack and once Cancellara started carving through the groups it was simply a matter of who could keep up.
Is it time to rebuild Omega Pharma-Quick Step?
If team manager Patrick Lefevere is looking for positives aspects to away from Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s difficult spring campaign, he should look to the promising performances of Zdenek Stybar, Michal Kwiatkowski and Stijn Vandenbergh. They all showed huge potential for the future.
For all of Tom Boonen’s past success and his many comebacks, he can’t go on...
Double winner of Milan-San Remo and 20 Giro stages pioneer for Spanish cycling
It’s one of those clichés about Spanish cycling that up until the arrival of Oscar Freire little mattered outside stage racing. But if that’s true then Miguel Poblet, who died on Saturday aged 86, was very much the exception to the rule.
Between when he turned pro in the mid-1940s to his retirement in 1962, Poblet racked up over 180 wins. That would be exceptional enough, considering the total included 20 stage victories at the Giro d'Italia, three at the Tour de France and at the Vuelta, as well as two Milan-San Remo victories and a record number of stage wins in the Volta a Catalunya.
He was also Spain’s first ever leader of the Tour de France, and the first of just three riders in cycling’s history to win stages in all three Grand Tours in the same year. Poblet’s versatility was such that he also won three Spanish National Mountain Championships and was the first rider to cross the Tourmalet in the 1955 Tour de France (in his first Tour). He was on the point of finishing second overall in the 1958 Giro d'Italia when a puncture in the final three kilometres of a stage in the Dolomites saw him lose any chance of the podium.
Two top three finishes in Paris-Roubaix and a third place in Lombardy was yet more proof that Poblet was far more than just a sprinter. Rather he was Spain’s first real all-rounder. As contemporary Federico Bahamontes said when news of Poblet’s death broke, Poblet was a rider more in the line of Alejandro Valverde than Oscar Freire, who is generally considered to be his successor - although Valverde has never shone in the cobbled Classics.
Poblet’s talents, in any case, were barely recognised in stage-racing-obsessed Spain and he raced for the most important period of his career in foreign squads, first in France and then for longer in Italy, with the Ignis team. As such, Poblet was the country’s first top name rider to race for a non-Spanish...
Dirk Demol guided Cancellara to victory, exactly 25 years after his own win at Paris-Roubaix.
"I've done this race so many times. I've been in the team car since the year 2000. On many occasions I headed back home being disappointed since we finished second, third... almost every top-10 result but never the victory. We had a good chance to win with Fabian but the fact that it's 25 years ago that I won myself makes it even more special. It's extraordinary. I'm very proud and unbelievably satisfied," Demol said.
Before the race Cancellara was the absolute favourite to win. He dominated E3 Harelbeke and won the Tour of Flanders by dropping Peter Sagan and everyone else in the race. His confidence took a knock when he crashed twice in the week before Paris- Roubaix; a first time in the Scheldeprijs and a second time while training on the cobbles. They both left their mark according to Demol.
"Before the race people asked me with how much of a gap Fabian would win by. But I don't think he was as strong as last week partly due to his two crashes. This week was difficult, the two crashes weren't good for us, especially his second crash, that was a nasty one," Demol said.
In contrast to most of his previous big wins, Cancellara didn't reach...
Belgian rider Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) impressively defended the blue and white colours of the Blanco team in front of the 111th edition of Paris-Roubaix. Vanmarcke was beaten in a two-man sprint by Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack). The team's dedicated leader Lars Boom made the first cut, but then fell short in the following selection and finished 14th at the vélodrome in Roubaix. Despite failing to live up to high expectations, a dust-covered Boom applauded the performance of Vanmarcke.
"It's super good from Sep. I hear that the gap was really small which makes it really sad for him. He rode a great race and I'm really happy for him," Boom said.
Coming into the race it seemed like Boom would be the dedicated team leader. The 2008 cyclo-cross world champion fell just short of a podium result in the 2012 edition of Paris-Roubaix, and realized he had a realistic chance for glory in the Queen of classics.
Vanmarcke was a bit off the radar as he struggled with a knee injury sustained at Tirreno-Adriatico last month. On Sunday both Blanco-riders featured in the decisive breakaway of 13 riders which escaped on the cobbles of Mons-en-Pévèle with less than 50km to go.
"I was well positioned in the race and felt good until a certain moment when suddenly my best forces were gone and that was a pity. I wasn't super today," Boom told Omroep Brabant.
Vanmarcke attacked the breakaway with Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-Greenedge), while Boom protected the move and marked Cancellara his wheel. Cancellara didn't seem worried, and started chatting with his directeur sportif at the team car while more riders bridged up towards the leaders. With 31km to go the chase group merely consisted of Cancellara, Boom, Bernhard Eisel (Sky) and Nikki...
Serebryakov made a statement this weekend absolving his team of any involvement in the doping case.
The Norwegian anti-doping agency has announced that the former US Postal Service teammate of Lance Armstrong, Steffen Kjærgaard, will not face any punishment after he admitted to doping during his career which ended upon his retirement in 2003.
The doping incidents, which occurred between 1998 and 2003 when Kjærgaard was on the Chicky World and US Postal teams, fell outside of the statute of limitations, and unlike USADA's case against Armstrong, there was no evidence that doping continued within the 8-year bounds of the rules.
"Anti-Doping Norway's investigations and conversations with Kjaersgaard have not given any information that (he) has used banned substances since the spring of 2003," a statement read.