The Quick-Step Floors riders let out their wolf pack howl as they celebrated winning the men’s team time trial world title in Innsbruck. The Belgian team has now won the title four times in seven editions of the event – in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018 – and this latest victory is their 69th of the 2018 season.
Niki Terpstra, Laurens de Plus, Yves Lampaert, Bob Jungles, neo-pro Kasper Asgreen and Maximilian Schachmann were obviously happy to have beaten major rivals Team Sunweb, BMC Racing and Team Sky. Celebrations were expected to go long into the night.
Quick-Step Floors were only third and second fastest at the 22.8 and 44.8km time splits, but they were strongest in the finale, touching 111km/h on the descent and riding at their very limit on the final 10km to the finish in Innsbruck.
“We were fastest from A to B," Terpstra said. "We rode hard and fast on the flat 40km, on the climb and on the final kilometres to the finish. We were still riding at close to 60km/h near the finish in the city. I think we did a good job.”
Terpstra became the only male rider to win four team time trial world titles but remains one behind Trixi Worrack, who earlier in the day won again with the Canyon-SRAM team in the women’s event.
Terpstra took centre stage on the podium and played a central role in the team time trial in one of his final races with Quick-Step Floors before moving to Direct Energie for the 2019 season.
“We knew that 62km is really long for a team time trial,” the Dutchman explained. “If you blow on climb you’d be f*cked in the end. I think we did a good pace, right on the limit, and that’s where we made the difference.”
Quick-Step Floors arrived in Innsbruck last Wednesday, doing several training rides on the course. However, their work for the team time trial has been ongoing all season, with coach Tom Steels leading the project and working on time trials skills, training and rider selection since the first pre-season training camp in December.
“It’s one of the nicest disciplines but also demands a lot of sacrifices, time and investment before we could set our winning time today,” Jungels explained, disappointed that the team time trial events will be transformed into combined men’s and women’s national team time trials in 2019.
“We set this victory up during the season, with riders performing in time trials and team time trials to show they could be in the team. This was a special race because the course was flat, climb and flat; we had to build a team specifically for that. We did training camps, tests for better position and to decide who should ride behind who and how to ride the climb. We looked at every detail.”
Lampaert admitted that he was scared of being dropped on the climb after 40km. When de Plus was the first to crack on the four-kilometre climb, the Belgian road race champion went deep to hang on and then do turns on the front in the final kilometres.
"The harder the TTT, the better this team gets,” Lampaert said.
“We knew we had to go to our limit on the climb and try to go over the top with as many riders as possible. We’ve got lots of horsepower and had some left to be fast in final 10km. I was hanging on and not recovering, I was a bloc. But there weren’t many tactics after climb.”
The Quick-Step Floors sextet knew that teammate Philippe Gilbert had won the Grand Prix d'Isbergues on his return to racing after crashing out of the Tour de France. The Belgian team have now won 69 UCI races, beating their previous record of 61 in 2014.
How many more races can they win?
"How many more races will we ride this season?” Terpstra asked with a cheeky smile.