The decision to ride the cobblestones on stage five of the Tour de France has polarised opinions in the peloton. Some have said that it is only right that the Tour de France champion should be able to handle the pavé, while others have criticised their inclusion.
Reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) agrees with the latter. When asked if yesterday's stage should have been cancelled due to the weather, he was categorical in his response. "It should not have been in the race in the first place. I mean, in the north of France you know it's going to rain," Terpstra told Cyclingnews on the start line of stage 6 in Arras.
Terpstra won Paris-Roubaix earlier this year, after he attacked with around six kilometres remaining. He also finished third the season before. The former Dutch national champion is a veteran on the cobbles and is well used to riding over them in the heat of battle, but he says that non-classics riders should not be forced to tackle them in a Grand Tour.
"I think cobblestone races are made for Classics. For a Classic you can chose to ride over the stones, but if you participate in the Tour de France you don't volunteer to take the cobblestones," said Terpstra. "It’s just the organisation that puts the cobblestones in and you have to survive it. If you see that Chris Froome is out because of that stage, I don’t think that we can be happy about that."
As the reigning champion of the hell of the north, Terpstra was one of the favourites to take the stage win. However, he missed the cut and was not among the four Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders to make it into the front group. "I'm really disappointed with my performance from yesterday but that's racing. It doesn't always go how you want. It was not satisfying," he told Cyclingnews.
With the cobbles behind him, Terpstra now switches his focus back to his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski. The Polish rider had a mixed day on the pavé, but has moved himself within a minute of the yellow jersey. Kwiatkowski also wears the white jersey for the moment, as classification leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wears the green jersey.
"It was a pity that he had a flat tyre in the last kilometres but even with his puncture he had a good day. He’s riding in the white jersey now and that is what we are trying to defend."