Niki Terpstra wins 2018 Tour of Flanders

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

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#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-HansgroheRow 5 - Cell 2
7Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 6 - Cell 2
8Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 7 - Cell 2
9Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 8 - Cell 2
10Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step FloorsRow 9 - Cell 2
11Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team SkyRow 11 - Cell 2
13Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 12 - Cell 2
14Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:01:09
15Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:01:13
16Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 15 - Cell 2
17Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 16 - Cell 2
18Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 17 - Cell 2
19Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 18 - Cell 2
20Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 20 - Cell 2
22Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:01:15
23Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 22 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team SkyRow 27 - Cell 2
29Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 28 - Cell 2
30Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:03:40
31Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-SegafredoRow 31 - Cell 2
33Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 32 - Cell 2
34Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 34 - Cell 2
36Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 35 - Cell 2
37Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 37 - Cell 2
39Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-SegafredoRow 38 - Cell 2
40Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 39 - Cell 2
41Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension DataRow 40 - Cell 2
42Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 41 - Cell 2
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-MeridaRow 45 - Cell 2
47Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 46 - Cell 2
48Davide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJRow 47 - Cell 2
49Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 48 - Cell 2
50Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 49 - Cell 2
51Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 50 - Cell 2
52Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 51 - Cell 2
53S¿ren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb0:05:49
54Maarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:34
55Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:08:18
57Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 56 - Cell 2
58Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 57 - Cell 2
59Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 60 - Cell 2
62Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 62 - Cell 2
64Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 63 - Cell 2
65Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team0:09:14
66Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 65 - Cell 2
67Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La MondialeRow 66 - Cell 2
68Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 67 - Cell 2
69Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 68 - Cell 2
70Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 69 - Cell 2
71Patrick Muller (Swi) Vital Concept ClubRow 70 - Cell 2
72Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 71 - Cell 2
73Michal Golas (Pol) Team SkyRow 72 - Cell 2
74Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 73 - Cell 2
75Lukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 74 - Cell 2
76Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 75 - Cell 2
77Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team SunwebRow 76 - Cell 2
78Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 77 - Cell 2
79Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJRow 78 - Cell 2
80Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 79 - Cell 2
81Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 80 - Cell 2
82Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 81 - Cell 2
83Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 82 - Cell 2
84Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-ScottRow 83 - Cell 2
85Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 84 - Cell 2
86Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 85 - Cell 2
87Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan0:13:12
88Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 87 - Cell 2
89Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:14:31
90Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 89 - Cell 2
91Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 90 - Cell 2
92Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 91 - Cell 2
93Ryan Mullen (Ire) Trek-SegafredoRow 92 - Cell 2
94Jan Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 93 - Cell 2
95Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension DataRow 94 - Cell 2
96Nicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension DataRow 95 - Cell 2
97Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJRow 96 - Cell 2
98Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 97 - Cell 2
99Alex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 98 - Cell 2
100Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 99 - Cell 2
101Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 100 - Cell 2
102Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 101 - Cell 2
103Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 102 - Cell 2
104Stijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFTruls Korsaeth (Nor) Astana Pro TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Schar (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team SunwebRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFTony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team SunwebRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team SunwebRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFFredrik Frison (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFMitchel Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La MondialeRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team SunwebRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFCoen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFJohann van Zyl (RSA) Dimension DataRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFAndrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFMark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFMaxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFSjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept ClubRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFBert de Backer (Bel) Vital Concept ClubRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) Vital Concept ClubRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFJeremy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept ClubRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Vital Concept ClubRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept ClubRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 144 - Cell 2
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 145 - Cell 2
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 146 - Cell 2
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 147 - Cell 2
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 148 - Cell 2
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJRow 149 - Cell 2
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJRow 150 - Cell 2
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-ScottRow 151 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 152 - Cell 2
DNFJorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 153 - Cell 2
DNFNuno Matos (Por) Movistar TeamRow 154 - Cell 2
DNFJasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar TeamRow 155 - Cell 2
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 156 - Cell 2
DNFRyan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 157 - Cell 2
DNFMichael van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 158 - Cell 2
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) Dimension DataRow 159 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 160 - Cell 2
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha-AlpecinRow 161 - Cell 2
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 162 - Cell 2
DNFPascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 163 - Cell 2
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 164 - Cell 2
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) LottoNL-JumboRow 165 - Cell 2
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team SkyRow 166 - Cell 2
DNFIan Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 167 - Cell 2
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 168 - Cell 2
DNFSimone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 169 - Cell 2
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 170 - Cell 2
DNFBen Swift (GBr) UAE Team EmiratesRow 171 - Cell 2
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 172 - Cell 2
DNFJose Goncçalves (Por) Katusha-AlpecinRow 173 - Cell 2
DSQLuke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 174 - Cell 2

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