Dutchman solos to victory
Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had plenty of time to lap up the adulation of the crowds in the Roubaix velodrome as he rode to the biggest victory of his career at Paris-Roubaix.
Terpstra entered the velodrome to huge roars and managed to complete a full lap before the chasers had done the same. He's been in fine form this spring but this victory trounced everything he has done until now.
"Since I was a little child and I started cycling, Paris-Roubaix was the most special race for me and now I won it it's a dream come true," said Terpstra.
"It was really special. I was so satisfied that I finally had a big one. I already had some nice victories, but always you hear that these are small races. It's the biggest Classic for me that I can win and I was really emotional when I crossed the big line," he said in the post-race press conference. "It's a stupid race - too old fashioned - but that's why it's so special and that's why I love it so much."
Terpstra attacked after the final major sector of cobbles, the pavé de Willems à Hem and immediately managed to draw out a gap. The indecision in the chasing group of favourites seemed to assist Terpstra in his mission. With Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb in the group, nobody was willing to drag them along. He eventually crossed the line with a 20-second advantage, but Terpstra didn't dare imagine that it was possible, until he had that fames velodrome in his sights.
"I only believed it in the last corner here. Two years ago, I was fifth. I think that if you can finish in the top 10 here, you can also with a bit of luck win it. Last year I was third, so I was close and now I did it," said Terpstra. "When we came together on the last cobble sector in Hem and Wilfried Pieeters told me and Zdenek to attack and 20 seconds later I attacked and it was the good one."
After a disappointing Tour of Flanders, where the team failed to finish on the podium, despite putting three riders into the top 10, the pressure was on for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. They responded to it in kind with an aggressive race and managed to get three into the top 10 once again.
Tom Boonen made a bold move just ahead of Orchies, where he made his race-winning move back in 2012. He gave Terpstra the instruction to follow him, but left it a fraction too long. "I hesitated one second too long and then it was too late. Then if I had reacted, I would have taken someone with me. He went and Tom is pretty explosive - more than me - and when he has one second on me it is a big gap. I hesitated too long and that was that."
"At that moment, I thought it was the good attack and I thought that it was a really good move from Tom to jump to that group because for a couple of kilometres, the peloton slowed down and thought that was the winning group and then BMC started chasing."
Servais Knaven, who was at the race as directeur sportif for Sky, was the last Dutchman to win Paris-Roubaix back in 2001. Terpstra rode in the service of Knaven at the 2009 and 2010 editions, while they were both teammates at Milram.
It's been a while for the Dutch people. "I learned a lot from him when we rode Paris-Roubaix together five years ago. I am happy to take this victory and close the gap between the Dutch wins, it's been too long," Terpstra said. "There were a lot a lot of strong riders in front and he attacked at the right moment. I also attacked at the right moment."
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