On top of Tom Boonen's legendary victory in the 2012 Paris-Roubaix last Sunday, the Belgian's team Omega Pharma-QuickStep was proud to have another rider in the top five, Dutchman Niki Terpstra. And if it hadn't been for an inopportune puncture, the squad directed by Patrick Lefevere could possibly have boasted a third rider in a top spot: Sylvain Chavanel.
Terpstra, who helped Boonen in his attack more than 55 kilometres from the finish, was glad his efforts paid off and provided him with such a good final placing. Even though he was unable to match Boonen's impressive pace for very long - let alone take a turn - the Dutchman showed great form as he rode the finale together with Sébastien Turgot (Europcar), going after the first chase group including Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank).
"I'm kapot," Terpstra told HLN in the finish. "When we rode away with Boonen, I had just done a turn in front and I hadn't recovered from that yet. Tom was riding very fast and once he took ten meters, it was over for me."
The 27-year-old, who won Dwars Door Vlaanderen recently, had no doubt that his team leader Boonen would be able to stand his ground until the finish, even though there were more than 50 kilometres ahead of him. "Sky could have been there with ten men, it wouldn't have changed anything." As he arrived in the velodrome, Terpstra and Turgot caught the three chasers but the 2010 Dutch champion was unable to sprint. "I had dug too deep to take on that group," he added.
Equally in amazing form, Sylvain Chavanel was unlucky and left Paris-Roubaix disappointed. After a successful attack with 66 kilometres to go, dragging a handful of riders with him, the Frenchman punctured on sector 12. It took more than two minutes for the neutral Mavic assistants to change his wheel, and even though he continued to battle, his Paris-Roubaix was over.
"Without that puncture, I would have attacked with Tom and I think we would have gone to the finish together," the winner of the 2012 Three Days of De Panne told L'Equipe before heading to his home on Sunday evening, turning down the invitations to celebrate with his team.
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