Third place at the Circuit de Wallonie one-day race in Belgium on Thursday was just what the doctor ordered for Team Total Direct Energie's Niki Terpstra. The Dutchman – winner of the 2018 Tour of Flanders and the 2014 Paris-Roubaix – crashed while attempting to defend his Flanders title in early April, suffering severe concussion.
Terpstra was apparently unconscious for 10 minutes after the crash, and spent a number of days in Oudenaarde hospital before heading home. He was back on his bike on April 19, and gradually built up his training hours, allowing him to return to competition in mid-May at the Four Days of Dunkirk, where he finished 42nd overall.
Terpstra then finished 86th at the one-day Grote Prijs Marcel Kint on May 26 before starting the Circuit de Wallonie on Thursday.
The Total Direct Energie leader – who joined the squad from Quick-Step for the 2019 season – showed that he was approaching something close to his best when he attacked with 40km of the 192km race to go, taking Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Roompot-Charles' Oscar Riesebeek with him, according to nieuwsblad.be.
The trio were joined by Terpstra's teammates Thomas Boudat and Anthony Turgis, giving Total Direct Energie the upper hand. The five riders evaded the chasing peloton and, sure enough, Boudat won the sprint in Mont-sur-Marchienne ahead of Planckaert, with Terpstra taking third.
"My goal is to be in top form in June and July to try to get some results," Terpstra said on his team's website ahead of his return to racing. "We've put together a good racing schedule, and want to be ready for the summer."
Talking about his crash and subsequent concussion, Terpstra said that he could recall very little of what had happened at the Tour of Flanders.
"The only thing I remember is being involved in a fall in the peloton," he said. "The next moment, I was waking up in a hospital room.
"I suffered severe concussion, after which it was essential to rest as much as possible," continued Terpstra, "and I spent the next few days in a darkened hospital room. I slept a lot, but gradually felt better, and, 10 days after the crash, I went on a little bike ride, which gave me some comfort."
Terpstra's Pro Continental team, which was known as Direct Energie, became Total Direct Energie just ahead of Paris-Roubaix, and with the name-change came a new red, white and blue team kit. In March, it was announced that the team would be one of the remaining two wild-card teams for the Tour de France, and the team and its sponsors will very much hope that Terpstra will be in a position to represent the team and try for stage wins in July.