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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
Forecasted rain not a concern for Belgian road champion
Last year’s Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Niki Terpstra will lead the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step squad in today’s 199.7km race that serves to kick-start three weeks of Belgian rain of cobbles and will attempt to do what has not been possible since the race’s inception in 1945: win back-to-back titles.
The real start to the Belgian classics season begins at Dwars door Vlaanderen and culminates with the Tour of Flanders on the final day in March with the crescendo at Paris-Roubaix on 7 April. For the moment however, Terpstra is concerned with pinning on race number "1" and attempting to repeat his 2012 victory whilst wearing the Belgian national road champion colours.
"My victory last year was fantastic," Terpstra told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I'm going to try again and it will undoubtedly be special as Dutch champion and while wearing number one."
Terpstra will hope that the blisteringly cold conditions of Milan-San Remo, where he failed to finish, does not impact his chances in his next race since competing in the season’s first monument. The weather has been forecast for rain and near sub-zero temperatures which will no doubt make for a very different race to last year.
"I think it will be an emotional moment at the start. The weather will be unlike last year but that's not really a problem. I do not like the snow, but rain I have no problem," said Terpstra.
His best-placed teammate from Milan-San Remo Sylvain Chavanel has decided to skip the 1.HC race in favour of resting before the upcoming WorldTour round E3 Harelbeke. Chavanel was instrumental in Terpstra’s win at last year’s Dwars door Vlaanderen and will no doubt miss the strength of the current French time trial champion.