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Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Dutch rider on form at the Three Days of de Panne
Omega Pharma-QuickStep won’t have things all their own way at this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, as Niki Terpstra has predicted. The Belgian team will once again be favourite to win due to their strength in numbers but Terpstra says they can’t let that go to their heads.
“We have a good team, but there are also some other good riders,” he told Cyclingnews. “We’ve seen Sagan winning easily, Cancellara is in good shape and there are even more riders who can win, so it’s going to be a big battle.”
QuickStep has several cards to play with Terpstra, three-time winner Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar. Boonen has not had the ideal build-up to the race. He missed Milan-San Remo and then injured his thumb at E3 Harelbeke last Friday. He hasn’t looked at his best.
With Terpstra in good form this spring, he is a firm candidate to pick up the baton of team leader for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The Dutchman doesn’t want to single himself out and hopes the team can put more than one rider in the top placings.
“I hope that we’re in the final together actually and then we can play the game. It’s pretty simple; we have to be on the front the last time up the Paterberg and Kwaremont. Hopefully we’re in the front group.”
Terpstra is currently riding the Three Days of De Panne and is perfectly placed to target overall victory. He is fourth overall, five seconds behind teammate Gert Steegmans but is by far the better time trialist. However, he expects to have a fight on his hands, especially from Orica-GreenEdge, who have a number of specialists in their ranks, with Luke Durbridge eighth overall, 15 seconds behind Terpstra.
“It will be a big battle, there are still two stages to go. They’re flat stages with not too much wind, so everyone is expecting a bunch sprint but I don’t think it will be too easy,” Terpstra told Cyclingnews.
“Of course I managed to get an advantage on some specialists, but it’s still a 14km time trial so we have to fight for every second."
Terpstra’s presence at the race was a surprise for some, with most of the Tour of Flanders favourites choosing to skip the notoriously hectic race in favour of training and recovery at home. However, this is a race that Terpstra likes to return to every year. He had the advantage of not riding Gent-Wevelgem.
“I can rest when I’m home. I’m here to race,” he said. “(This race) suits me well. If I was a good climber then I would probably like to do the Alpe d’Huez or something, but this race suits me well and I can make some good results. The Belgian fans are really interested in it."