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Terpstra wins Paris-Roubaix with late solo attack

By:
Brecht Decaluwé

Degenkolb wins sprint for second, Cancellara third

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won his first ever Paris-Roubaix after a late solo attack took him clear of a group that included all the race favourites.

The Dutchman took advantage as the other riders controlled each other after a nervous, tiring race in dry conditions and carved out a winning margin that allowed him cross the line alone and let a roar of celebration. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won the sprint finish for second place, some 20 seconds behind Terpstra. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was third.

Terpstra attacked after the final sector of pave with six kilometres to go. Other riders hesitated in the headwind and so Terpstra got a gap and never looked back.

"For me it’s the most beautiful classic of the year. It's a dream to win this. It was the big goal I was aiming for and I did it." Terpstra said after lifting the winner's cobble stone prize.

We had Tom in the front group but the directeur sportif said it was good to do some attacks. I went after the cobbled section and it was the good one."

Fabian Cancellara was proud of his podium place. "I'm tried and I'm disappointed. I race to win but it didn’t go how I'd hoped," he said.

"This is the 12th time on the podium in a monument. I'm judge on if I win but third isn’t bad either. I spent a lot to get back on after my problems. We all spend I suppose and I just did what I could. I thought the four-rider attack was good but it didn’t work and Niki got away."

How it happened

Around ten o'clock on Sunday morning 199 riders gathered in the Place Général de Gaulle in Compiègne for the start of the 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix.

It was a very chilly morning in Compiègne but few riders were wearing additional gear as they knew they would get warm real soon. At 10:15 the bunch got underway with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and his strong teammates as top favourites on a course that would face mainly a headwind on their way to Roubaix.

After strolling through the streets of Compiègne the peloton passed the official start point at 20:25 in the outskirts of town. After three kilometres of racing a group of eight riders managed to get away and soon after the peloton sat up happy to let the race settle into a usual scenario.

The eight leaders were John Murphy (United Healthcare), Kenny de Haes (Lotto Belisol), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura), Clément Koretzky and Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne-Seche Environement), David Boucher (FDJ.fr), Tim De Troyer (Wanty-Groupe Robert) and Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo). The eight attackers worked well together and in one hour of racing they opened a lead of nine minutes over the peloton with Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Belkin, Trek Factory Racing and Katusha setting the pace at the front of the peloton.

When approaching the first pavé sectors after 97.5km of racing the gap began to drop. The first zone started in Troisvilles. It is sector number 28, meaning there were 27 more sectors to cover during the 157km race.

After three dusty sectors Tom Boonen was spotted at the back with what must have been his first flat tyre in all his Paris-Roubaix participations. Soon after Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) flatted too. Both riders easily returned in the peloton but it was a sign of a tense, tactical race.

A little later Démare was among some riders who went down in what must have been the first crash of the day during sector 24 of cobbles. All the riders were able to continue their race and by the time the peloton got through sector 20 at 115km from the finish, the gap was down to nearly six minutes.

Near Denain, it became clear the peloton was getting nervous. The speed increased and so did the crashes and mechanicals. First Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) flatted. When he returned to the peloton a serious crash had just occurred under a bridge where steel poles separated the road from the sidewalk. Among the victims was outsider Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Peter Sagan (Cannondale) flatted too. He faced a hard time to get back to the front of the peloton before the Forest of Arenberg with its famous Trouée d'Arenberg which was just ten kilometres away.

Team Sky lead the peloton on the final section of road before the Trouée, as speeds touched 60km/h on the slightly down approach to the long section of cobbles through the trees. In the front group Boucher flatted just before entering the forest and once in the forest Koretzky and De Haes flatted too while Kolar got dropped. Only Schillinger, Murphy, De Troyer and Jarrier remained in break of the day.

The peloton entered the Forest of Arenberg 4:20 after the leaders, led by Björn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Robert). In contrast to other years there were few incidents, although Kristoff flatted halfway the long stretch as did Gregory Rast (Trek Factory Racing) who threw his bike away in anger.

The peloton didn't make up a lot of time on the four remaining leaders in the Forest and the big favourites remained composed and in control. However Kristoff was riding behind a second peloton and a little later the Norwegian flatted again putting him out of contention. Boucher nearly caught back up with the four leaders but then was forced to stop at a railway crossing. Trains and level crossing are also part of what makes Paris-Roubaix so special.

The Roulston crash changes the race

The real action started early in the peloton when Hayden Roulston (Trek Factory Racing) hopped off the sidewalk just before sector 16. He crashed heavily and took down a lot of riders with him. His team leader Fabian Cancellara was also blocked by the crash and was caught in the second half of the peloton. It was the first real turning point in the race.

The Omega Pharma-QuickStep led the peloton over sector 16 of pave in Hornaing à Wandignies. It is 3.7km long sector and rated at four stars, and forced Cancellara to chase. Sagan was spotted in trouble at the back of the peloton and the bunch split in several parts as the cobbles and strong winds took their toll.

A group led by a strong Thor Hushovd (BMC) powered away but their effort was quickly neutralized by Omega Pharma-QuickStep once off the cobbles. On sector 15 Hushovd attacked a second time as the race refused to settle into a logical pattern.

In front there were only three riders left as Murphy was caught back by the peloton at the feed zone. They had about a minute on the peloton but a whole new race was about to begin.

After leaving sector 14 in Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières, attacks kept flying with Sagan still riding at the back of the peloton and Cancellara still off the pace. A group including Bert De Backer (Giant-Shimano), Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ.fr), Yannick Martinez (Europcar) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) sneaked away and on sector 13 in Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies, Boonen launched a solo counter-attack. He quickly bridged up with to group and put his cards on the table. Was he riding to win, in a show of strength, or playing a team game.

Boonen's frustration at a lack of support and hard work from the other riders in the move indicated he believed he had a chance of victory. On sector 12 in Orchies, Boonen once again accelerated trying to reduce the numbers in the lead group. Five other riders survived the cut. They were Thomas, De Backer, Martinez, Ladagnous. However behind BMC was well organised and brought the peloton back to a handful of seconds just before sector 11.

Boonen accelerated once again and this time only De Backer, Martinez and Thomas were able to keep up. Hushovd accelerated in the peloton and bridged up to the four leaders. Once off sector 11 in Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée, the peloton were on the verge of catching the Boonen group but then they eased up. BMC was no longer doing the work and with several big teams represented, no other team wanted to take the initiative.

On a knife edge

The six-rider attack had a gap of 50 seconds at 40km to go from finish and the race was on a knife edge, ready to go either way. Boonen tried to go alone or at least split the break several times but did not have the power to stay clear.

Peter Sagan had a difficult race but did not lack courage and did not want allow Boonen to stay away and set up victory. After making the selection despite being at the back of the main group on several sectors, he attacked at 35km to go with Maarten Wynants (Belkin). For a while the two were stick in the middle but eventually caught Boonen's group with 22km to go.

Behind the chasers were also active and within reach of the attack. Sep Vanmarcke had two Belkin teammates up front but was the team's leader and attacked with Cancellara on the legendary Camphin-en-Pévèle sector. They quickly got across to the Boonen group, reopening the race. However Sagan had attacked alone, in a youthful and hopeful attempt at lone victory. He got a gap and never eased up but a 25-rider peloton could see him up the road.

The 2.1km long Carrefour de l’Arbre sector of pave often decides Paris-Roubaix. This time Vanmarcke, Cancellara Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Degenkolb got clear and managed to close the gap on Sagan, who had gone into the red in his solo move.

However this was not to be the decisive move. Behind Terpstra tried to drag Boonen back into contention and Wiggins and Thomas teamed up to help the chase. Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp) was also there and they caught Cancellara & Co before the final Willems à Hem sector of pave. There was suddenly 11 riders in the front group, all with a chance of victory.

A group sprint in the velodrome?

A big group sprinting for victory has not been seen for years but Degenkolb believed in is chances and got teammate Bert De Backer to set a hard pace on the pave.

There was seven kilometres on road left to race and Terpstra took advantage of the moment. Omega Pharma-QuickStep also had Stybar and a very tired Boonen in the move and so could afford to play a card. The Dutch track specialist and fine time trialist jumped from near the back of the peloton and was quickly up to speed and quickly opened a gap.

The other riders hesitated for a vital few seconds in the headwind and Terpstra was away. He quickly opened a 15-second gap and never looked back. He handed the final symbolic sector of pave with ease and then entered the velodrome alone, with a roar from the packed crowd. He completed his lap and a half at a steady speed and then celebrated with a loud roar and with some emotional arm waving. He has learned how to ride the Classics at Omega Pharma-QuickStep in recent years and has stepped up to take the biggest victory of his career.

He rightly celebrated on the podium as he lifted the cobblestone prize. Everyone else could only spit out the dirt from their lungs and fight the burning pain in their legs.

Results

Elite men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 6:09:01  
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:20  
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing    
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale    
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky    
8 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
9 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky    
10 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
11 Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:26  
12 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:47  
13 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky    
14 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
15 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
16 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
17 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
18 Jos van Emden (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
19 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 0:01:05  
20 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
21 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky    
22 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
23 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
24 Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar    
25 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge    
26 Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
27 Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
28 Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:02:55  
29 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
30 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team    
31 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky    
32 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr    
33 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
34 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
35 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo    
36 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale    
37 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:02:59  
38 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin Sharp    
39 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
40 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team    
41 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:04:14  
42 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale 0:05:48  
43 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:06:42  
44 Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling    
45 Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
46 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale    
47 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale    
48 Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement 0:06:44  
49 Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
50 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
51 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
52 Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:07:06  
53 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing    
54 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
55 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing    
56 Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp - Endura    
57 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha    
58 Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
59 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ.fr    
60 Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
61 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team    
62 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling    
63 Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp - Endura    
64 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
65 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky    
66 Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp - Endura    
67 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp    
68 Stijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
69 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Giant-Shimano    
70 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
71 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
72 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale    
73 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
74 Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha    
75 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:07:22  
76 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:07:51  
77 Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:09:55  
78 Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
79 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
80 Andrea Francesco Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
81 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
82 Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
83 Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
84 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
85 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
86 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha    
87 Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale    
88 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr    
89 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
90 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
91 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling    
92 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha    
93 Jonathan McEvoy (GBr) Team NetApp-Endura    
94 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing    
95 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
96 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
97 Tim De Troyer (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
98 Marko Kump (Slo) Tinkoff-Saxo    
99 Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:10:08  
100 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:13:16  
101 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale 0:13:42  
102 Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
103 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
104 Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
105 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin Sharp    
106 Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
107 Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
108 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
109 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol    
110 Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:16:14  
111 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr 0:16:22  
112 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky    
113 David Millar (GBr) Garmin Sharp 0:16:40  
114 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing 0:18:37  
115 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:18:39  
116 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
117 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Sky    
118 Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge    
119 Dominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling    
120 Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing    
121 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:18:54  
122 Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
123 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
124 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team    
125 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
126 Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha    
127 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:22:04  
128 Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
129 Vegard Breen (Nor) Lotto Belisol    
130 Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:22:08  
131 Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura 0:27:42  
132 Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:27:46  
133 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
134 Sam Bennett (Irl) Team NetApp - Endura    
135 Daniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
136 Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha    
137 Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
138 Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
139 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
140 Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
141 Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo    
142 Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale    
143 Ralf Matzka (Ger) Team NetApp - Endura    
144 Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar    
DNF Dayer Uberney Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team    
DNF Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team    
DNF Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling    
DNF Evan Huffman (USA) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
DNF Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling    
DNF Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Jesper Hansen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Christophe Laborie (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
DNF Benjamin Le Montagner (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
DNF Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
DNF Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdge    
DNF Gert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Louis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar    
DNF Erwann Corbel (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement    
DNF Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Team NetApp - Endura    
DNF Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica GreenEdge    
DNF Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Team Katusha    
DNF Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin Sharp    
DNF David Boucher (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha    
DNF Edward King (USA) Cannondale    
DNF Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida