Niki Terpstra wins 2018 Tour of Flanders

Dutchman solos to victory in Oudenaarde

Niki Terpstra continued Quick-Step Floors' domination of the Belgian Classics with a solo win in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. The Dutchman jumped clear over the top of the Kruisberg after Milan-San Remo winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) attacked.

Terpstra dropped the Italian soon after, then caught and quickly dispatched a trio of riders from the early break on the Kwaremont. Despite a chase from a group containing Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and last year's winner Philippe Gilbert over the last two climbs, Terpstra was able to hold on for the win. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) secured second place after surviving from the early break, as Gilbert capped another excellent day for Quick-Step with third place.

Terpstra's attack mirrored the move he made in the 2015 edition of the race, but unlike three years ago he didn't have Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) for company. By the time Nibali had attacked, several other riders had shown their cards: Van Avermaet had accelerated on the Taaienberg, with Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) and Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing) all following. Terpstra's acceleration may have come after Nibali's, but it was effortless yet brutally decisive in comparison. The former Paris-Roubaix winner glided onto Nibali's back wheel, waited as the Italian burnt his last match, and then simply pressed on the pedals. He made it look easy.

With Terpstra clear, the rest of the Quick-Step team could sit back and force the likes of Sagan, Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) to organise a chase. With little in the way of team support, and unwillingness to sacrifice their chances only to see Gilbert or Stybar counter, the chase lacked cohesion. Quick-Step's strength in numbers never looked so important.

At the foot of the final climb, the Paterberg, Terpstra held a 36-second lead over the group of main chasers. Sagan attempted to go clear on the climb and again on the run-in, but he was closely marked and unable to create a significant gap as Terpstra set about a lone time trial to the finish.

As Terpstra raised his arms in victory, Gilbert marked a late move from Michael Valgren (Astana). Pedersen took a well-deserved second place, with Gilbert rounding out the podium.

"It's a dream come true, winning Paris-Roubaix and now the Tour of Flanders," Terpstra said. "Those two races were always a big dream for me when I was young kid. I was already crazy about those two races. Now they're both on my palmares. I can't describe how happy I am."

The win continues Quick-Steps' dominance this season. The Belgian outfit, who started the race with four cards to play, have now won Le Samyn, Dwars door West Vlaanderen, Handzame Classic, De Panne, E3 Harelbeke, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Flanders. Few would bet against them winning next week in Paris-Roubaix.

How it happened

In contrast to last year's sunny start in Antwerp the clouds were grey on Easter Sunday but massive crowds in Antwerp welcomed the riders for the start of the 102nd Ronde van Vlaanderen.

At exactly half past nine, the peloton rolled across the start line next to the Schelde river. After rolling through the nine neutral kilometres the nearly 265 kilometres long race got underway on wet roads.

The Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij, Cofidis, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Veranda’s Willems-Crelan riders were active but their efforts to form the early break weren't successful. Quite soon, the first crash occurred and it included Alberto Bettiol (BMC) but also one of the race's top favourites, Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac). The Belgian rider managed to continue in the race but Bettiol was soon in trouble. A few more attempts to get in a breakaway failed, resulting in a fast first hour at a painful 46km/h.

A breakaway was finally given the go from the peloton after 70 kilometres of racing with Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates), Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data), Pascal Eenkhoorn (LottoNL-Jumbo), Aimé De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Michael Goolaerts (Veranda's Willems-Crelan), Dimitri Peyskens (WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic), Pim Ligthart and Floris Gerts for Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij, Jimmy Turgis (Cofidis) and Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) in the move.

Once the breakaway was up the road, riders stopped for a natural break while other riders crashed, once again Sep Vanmarcke went down. It didn't seem to be his day.

After 120 kilometres of racing, the eleven leaders started the Oude Kwaremont - the first of 18 Hellingen climbs - but it was approaching Geraardsbergen that the pace picked up again. Last year, the race was opened up on the Muur with a surge from Quick-Step Floors. This time, a massive crash in the approach to Geraardsbergen was the key event. Former double winner Stijn Devolder, Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and favourite Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) were amongst the victims of the crash but they continued the race. There were no attacks on the Muur, where a strong Tiesj Benoot led the peloton on the final part. Naesen had a lot of work on his plate to make it back in the peloton. This year's race was a far more tactical race as the riders tackled more cobbled climbs in the rain.

After the relative quiet of the Muur, some 75 kilometres from the finish, Quick-Step Floors accelerated on the Kanarieberg and nearly all the breakaway riders were caught back by the peloton. Only Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Ivan Garcia Cortina escaped and quickly collected a lead of more than a minute on the peloton. The riders passed the 200km mark with Devriendt and Garcia Cortina up front with a small peloton at 1:30.

In the run-up to the legendary Koppenberg, with 50km to go, six riders came together in front in an interesting move. Devriendt and Garcia Cortina were joined by Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana), Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First-Drapac) and Dylan van Baarle (Tram Sky). Behind, halfway up the Koppenberg, Terpstra attacked. Benoot was the first to react, marked by Gilbert, Van Avermaet, Sagan, Van Aert, Vanmarcke, Stuyven, Kristoff and an impressive Nibali.

Démare, Naesen, Kwiatkowski, Trentin, Stybar, Colbrelli, Boasson-Hagen, Moscon, Roelandts, Oss, Haussler, Politt, Lampaert and Valgren Andersen were also there, while Mike Teunissen bridged up solo shortly after the Koppenberg.

On the Taaienberg, the 15th of 18 Hellingen climbs with 40km to race, it was Greg Van Avermaet who unleashed a brutal acceleration. He was marked closely by Vanmarcke, Stybar, Van Aert, Valgren Andersen, Sagan and Kristoff. Terpstra first and later Stybar accelerated shortly after the Taaienberg but Roelandts and Moscon neutralized the move. There were about thirty riders in the first peloton with three leaders still half a minute further up the road. There was still no dominant rider or team at this point.

On the Kruisberg, with 30km to go, Colbrelli accelerated with Stybar, Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Stuyven. They were caught back and Nibali countered on the asphalt surface. His move was marked by Terpstra and suddenly the race was shaped. Nibali struggled to hold Terpstra's wheel and he did not hesitate, leaving him behind on the short Hotond climb as Vanmarcke flatted.

Van Baarle, Langeveld and Pedersen were still fifteen seconds ahead of Terpstra, with the first peloton was half a minute behind the leaders but it was a key moment.

Terpstra timed his catch perfectly and powered past the three leaders before the Kwaremont village. Pedersen was the last to be distanced but refused to give up. Terpstra knew it was his chance and gave his all across the cobbled road.

Behind, Benoot and Vanmarcke exchanged accelerations as Kwiatkowski and Lampaert were dropped. The distance and fatigue were taking their toll and Terpstra was riding away to victory.

Sagan attacked on the main road but he was marked by Gilbert and Van Aert. Yet over the Paterberg he pushed on and tried to chase alone. It was a desperate and futile move and he was eventually caught by the chasers as the kilometres counted down.

Up front, Terpstra knew he was riding to a huge victory, while Pedersen fought even harder to stay clear for second place. Valgren attacked in the final kilometres, marked by Gilbert but further up the long final kilometre, Terpstra was about to celebrate. He and Quick-Step Floors had struck again, using their strength in numbers to outfox and outperform their rivals.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors6:21:25 
2Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:00:12 
3Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:00:17 
4Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:20 
5Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:25 
6Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
7Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
8Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
9Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
10Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors  
11Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
12Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky  
13Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
14Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:01:09 
15Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:01:13 
16Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
17Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
18Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
19Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data  
20Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team  
21Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky  
22Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:01:15 
23Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
24Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:01:18 
25Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida0:01:24 
26Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:03:16 
27Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
28Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky  
29Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
30Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:03:40 
31Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
32John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo  
33Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
34Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
35Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
36Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
37Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
38Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
39Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
40Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
41Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data  
42Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
43Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo0:03:44 
44Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors0:03:47 
45Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott0:04:10 
46Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
47Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
48Davide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ  
49Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
50Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
51Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
52Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
53S¿ren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb0:05:49 
54Maarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:34 
55Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
56Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:08:18 
57Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
58Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
59Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team  
60Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
61Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
62Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team  
63Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
64Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
65Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team0:09:14 
66Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
67Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
68Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
69Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
70Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
71Patrick Muller (Swi) Vital Concept Club  
72Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
73Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
74Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
75Lukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
76Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
77Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb  
78Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
79Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ  
80Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
81Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
82Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
83Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
84Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott  
85Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
86Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
87Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan0:13:12 
88Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
89Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:14:31 
90Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
91Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
92Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
93Ryan Mullen (Ire) Trek-Segafredo  
94Jan Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
95Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data  
96Nicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data  
97Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ  
98Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
99Alex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
100Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
101Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
102Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
103Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
104Stijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFTruls Korsaeth (Nor) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMichael Schar (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFTony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFFredrik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMitchel Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFCoen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFJohann van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFMichael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFAndrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFMark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFMaxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFJulien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFSjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFBert de Backer (Bel) Vital Concept Club  
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFJeremy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept Club  
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFJorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFNuno Matos (Por) Movistar Team  
DNFJasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFRyan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFMichael van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFPascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
DNFIan Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFSimone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFBen Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFJose Goncçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin  
DSQLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky   

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