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Vuelta a Espana: Terpstra creates internal points competition to motivate Etixx teammates

Niki Terpstra has created a special points competition for the Etixx-QuickStep riders at the Vuelta a Espana to give them a little bit of extra motivation during the final grand tour of the season.

The Dutch rider told de Telegraaf newspaper that he had set up a scoreboard where various bits of daily activity can earn or lose them points, such as getting into the break of the day or arriving late at the team bus to leave for the start.

Grand tours are very tough both mentally and physically, especially when the race hits the mountains in the second and third week. Without a clear team hierarchy going into the Vuelta a Espana, Terpstra says the competition is a way to push and motivate the whole team. It's not just pride on the line; Terpstra has convinced Specialized Europe director, Eugene Fierkens to include a Fat Bike as a prize for the winner.

"It was mainly intended to challenge the helpers to go for glory," Terpstra told de Telegraaf. "The success of a team is determined not only by the winner. For this reason, to earn points especially with getting into a breakaway, the mileage you ride in front of the peloton and, for example, fetching water bottles at difficult moments. But there are downsides. When you are late to the bus in the morning, you get deductions. However, in this Vuelta, no one has been too late."

What started off as a little motivation boost has become a serious thing for the team and points accrued has become a regular meal-time topic of conversation.

"Every night, everyone is discussing the points earned and their progress, with the scores managed by the team leaders. At the table there is daily discussion about the rankings," he said.

The incentive appears to be working, and the Belgian squad has been one of the most successful teams at this year's Vuelta a Espana. They already have four stage victories with Gianni Meersman taking two and David de la Cruz and Gianluca Brambilla claiming one each. De la Cruz also spent a short spell in the red jersey at the end of the first week and still sits in 10th overall. There is still opportunity for more success, particularly in the final stage to Madrid.

Terpstra revealed that Pieter Serry, who had been in contention for victory on La Camperona on stage 8, leads the team's internal competition and with only four stages remaining the other riders are running out of time to catch him up. Terpstra himself is not confident of catching up his teammate in the final days. 

"I want to win that fat bike very much, but I have unfortunately too few points," he said. "But there are still some interesting rides."

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