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.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors||6:21:25|
|2||Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:12|
|3||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors||0:00:17|
|4||Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:00:20|
|5||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team||0:00:25|
|6||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|7||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo|
|8||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|9||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|10||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors|
|11||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale|
|12||Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky|
|13||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|14||Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||0:01:09|
|15||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:01:13|
|16||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|17||Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|18||Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|19||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data|
|20||Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team|
|21||Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky|
|22||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||0:01:15|
|23||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|24||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||0:01:18|
|25||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida||0:01:24|
|26||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:03:16|
|27||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team|
|28||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky|
|29||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors|
|30||Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert||0:03:40|
|31||Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team|
|32||John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo|
|33||Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin|
|34||Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team|
|35||Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|36||Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale|
|37||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-Merida|
|38||Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|39||Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo|
|40||Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|41||Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data|
|42||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|43||Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo||0:03:44|
|44||Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors||0:03:47|
|45||Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott||0:04:10|
|46||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|47||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|48||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ|
|49||Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|50||Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|51||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|52||Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team|
|53||S¿ren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb||0:05:49|
|54||Maarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo||0:07:34|
|55||Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|56||Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||0:08:18|
|57||Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|58||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|59||Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team|
|60||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|61||Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|62||Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team|
|63||Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|64||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|65||Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team||0:09:14|
|66||Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|67||Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale|
|68||Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|69||Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|70||Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|71||Patrick Muller (Swi) Vital Concept Club|
|72||Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|73||Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky|
|74||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal|
|75||Lukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|76||Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors|
|77||Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|78||Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|79||Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ|
|80||Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|81||Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|82||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|83||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|84||Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott|
|85||Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|86||Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|87||Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan||0:13:12|
|88||Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|89||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:14:31|
|90||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|91||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|92||Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|93||Ryan Mullen (Ire) Trek-Segafredo|
|94||Jan Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|95||Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data|
|96||Nicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data|
|97||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ|
|98||Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|99||Alex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|100||Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|101||Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin|
|102||Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|103||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|104||Stijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Truls Korsaeth (Nor) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Michael Schar (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Edward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors|
|DNF||Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Fredrik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Mitchel Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|DNF||Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Johann van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Stijn Devolder (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Michael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Zico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Mark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Kenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Julien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Floris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Brian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Bert de Backer (Bel) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Johan Le Bon (Fra) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Jeremy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Julien Morice (Fra) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept Club|
|DNF||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott|
|DNF||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|DNF||Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Nuno Matos (Por) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Jasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Michael van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Borut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|DNF||Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Bram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Robert Wagner (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky|
|DNF||Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky|
|DNF||Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Jose Goncçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DSQ||Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky|
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