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Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Dutch rider goes it alone in Belgium
With a tactical move on top of the Oude Kwaremont Terpstra left a breakaway group behind together with Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator). Soon after that Terpstra stormed forward again on the Paterberg and he left the Wallays behind. After completing a 30 km solo ride he rolled across the finish line in sunny Waregem with nearly a minute on teammate Sylvain Chavanel who was best of the rest.
It was his first win since the 2010 Sparkassen Giro in a year in which he also took the Dutch road title.
"Winning the national championships was really nice because you get to wear that special jersey a whole year long. This is a really nice win too. I hope this is the beginning of much more," Tersptra said.
The winner of the 2011 Dwars door Vlaanderen - Nick Nuyens - went on to win the Tour of Flanders, but Terpstra didn't see a parallel for himself this year. "That's another level with stronger teams which include all their team leaders. There's a man like Fabian Cancellara and we'll have Tom Boonen for our team.
"If I want to stand a chance then I don't have to wait and see. I have to race flat out because otherwise I feel like I didn't get the most out of it. If I look at my wins they're often captured after an early attack. That it is often a waste of energy? True, but many people will have said that too when I attacked in the Ronde van Vlaanderen street," Terpstra said.
It hasn't been a perfect early season for Terpstra, who took ill before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but after a hard training block and improvements during Tirreno-Adriatico, he took to the start in Milano-San Remo in service of Boonen. "I stayed with Tom, but due to that crash things went the wrong way. We ended up riding 300 km for nothing. It was a nice training ride," Terpstra laughed. "Then I felt that I was alright and today I went full gas."
Having his teammate Sylvain Chavanel in the breakaway with him was a big benefit, as the other riders watched the French champion more closely, allowing Terpstra to do what he does best. "Sylvain rode really hard over the Oude Kwaremont and then I thought we had to go flat out because the others were more of a stumbling-block than a stimulus to us. I attacked and thought Sylvain would come but luckily he didn't," Terpstra smiled.
Once up front there were still 30 km to go over hilly terrain and Terpstra had his doubts on a successful conclusion. He faced the disadvantage of a headwind for nearly half his time alone at the front of the race, but from Wortegem-Petegem [16 km to go] until the finish there was a tailwind.
"When checking the bike computer I figured that if they would ride harder than I did - around 50 km/h - they would have to be really strong. Every 10km you hear what the gap is but you don't know what's going on. I had to get a minute as soon as possible and at least hold it or extend it. Once it would drop below that the group would smell blood," Terpstra said.
Three months ago, Terpstra had a different experience while speeding through this part of Belgium. When driving to the team presentation in Vilvoorde back in January, he stopped by the Belgian police for speeding. He lost his driving license and completed the final kilometers to Vilvoorde on his bike.
In Waregem today, the Belgian police stopped him again, but this time around they put him on a podium.