Flanders: Niki Terpstra powers to victory

Niki Terpstra attacked with 25 kilometers to go and soloed to the win at the 2018 Tour of Flanders on Sunday in Oudenaarde, Belgium.

Photo: Getty Images

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Niki Terpstra is now a two-time monument winner after winning the Tour of Flanders on Sunday in Ourdenaard, Belgium. The Quick-Step Floors rider won Paris-Roubaix in 2014.

“Winning Paris-Roubaix and now the Tour of Flanders, for me it was always a big dream,” said an emotional Terpstra. “When I was a kid, I was crazy for these races. I can’t describe how happy I am.”

The Dutchman launched a daring solo breakaway with 25 kilometers left in the race after the riders crested the Kruisberg. He followed an initial attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), but he quickly left the Italian behind and set off alone. He bridged to the three remaining riders of the day’s breakaway on the Oude Kwaremont and immediately rode by them. He powered along alone to take the victory. He was visibly emotional during the post-race television interview. He is the first Dutchman to win the Tour of Flanders since Adri van der Poel was victorious back in 1986.

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) was one of the breakaway riders Terpstra passed on the Oude Kwaremont, but the Dane was able to find the strength to hold off the elite chase group that was closing behind to take second place. Pedersen is just 22-years-old and 2018 was his Flanders debut. He finished nine seconds adrift of Terpstra. Philippe Gilbert jumped away from the chase group, which contained many of the race’s heavy hitters, in the final to round out the podium.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Michale Valgren (Astana) jumped away with Gilbert to take fourth while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won the sprint for fifth. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished sixth.

Top 10

  • 1. Niki Terpstra, (NED) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, in 06:21:25
  • 2. Mads Pedersen, (DEN) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:00:12
  • 3. Philippe Gilbert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:00:17
  • 4. Michael Valgren Andersen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:00:20
  • 5. Greg Van Avermaet, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:00:25
  • 6. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:00:25
  • 7. Jasper Stuyven, (BEL) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:00:25
  • 8. Tiesj Benoot, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:00:25
  • 9. Wout Van Aert, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 0:00:25
  • 10. Zdenek Štybar, (CZE) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:00:25

The 102nd edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen was a brutal affair. The weather was awful to begin the day with the temperature in the low 40s and sporadic rain. It was also one of the longest De Ronde’s in recent years at 267 kilometers. The riders tackled 18 of the climbs known as “hellingen” and also felt the bumps of five flat cobbled sectors.

Last year, the day’s breakaway slipped the grasp of the peloton fairly easily, but it was quite the opposite on Sunday. An 11-rider group didn’t escape the peloton until over 70 kilometers in the race. Unlike in years past as well, they would never gain an advantage of more than around five minutes. The typical double-digit minute lead that the day’s breakaway typically sees early in the race was nonexistent. The breakaway forming late in the race most likely affected this.

With 145 kilometers remaining, the riders hit the first “hellingen” of the day — Oude Kwaremont. The 2.2-kilometer climb, which averages 4.2 percent, would be contested on three occasions. Luckily, it was dry when the riders contested it. However, not all of the “hellingen” climbed throughout the day would have dry cobblestones on them.

Over the course of the next 50 kilometers the peloton and breakaway tackled seven climbs, the last of which was the famous Muur-Kapelmuur.

There was a big fight to be at the front of the peloton approaching the Muur and the aggressiveness came back to haunt some. A crash occurred a few kilometers from the base of the climb. Many of the riders involved were domestiques, but one big name pre-race favorite did go down. Belgian national road champion Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) went down and did not remount quickly. He hand to untangle himself from other crashed riders and get a replacement front wheel. He lost more than a minute on the fast moving peloton and was forced to work his way through dropped riders on the Muur.

At the front of the peloton on the Muur, the pace was incredibly high. Everyone was gritting their teeth and pushing a massive amount of power into the pedals. A group of about 30 riders did go clear when the road turned back to pavement, but the group was disorganized and so the peloton reformed. Naesen rejoined the peloton as well.

There were nearly 20 kilometers of pavement between the Muur and the next climb of the day, the Pottelberg. The breakaway was less than two minutes up the road and many riders attacked trying to bridge.

On the second round of the Oude Kwaremont with 55 kilometers to go, the pace was incredible. This seemed to mark the beginning of the finale of the race. Mitch Docker (EF Education First-Drapac) crashed into a barded wire fence at the beginning of the Kwaremont. A section of the cobbled climb has a barbed wire fence lining it and although Docker crashed slowly, he rolled into the fence after hitting the ground.

At the front of the peloton, Dwars Door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) drilled the pace and split the group. Back on the pavement, both Van Avermaet and Sagan found themselves in the second group. A few of the front groups came together before the pace was ratcheted up once more for the first ascent of the Paterberg. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) was at the front with a few of his Sky teammates and looking good. However, he would miss the final selection and not be a factor in the finale of the race.

After the Paterberg, it was announced that Luke Rowe (Sky) had been disqualified from the race for riding on a sidewalk filled with pedestrians. It is a rare occurrence for a rider to be disqualified during the race.

The brutally steep Koppenberg came with just 45 kilometers to go and did its job of whittling down the peloton even further. After the Koppenberg, there were just three leaders. The leaders out front were Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First-Drapac), Dylan van Baarle (Sky), and Pedersen.

On the Taaienberg, Van Avermaet attack extremely hard and split the group once more. Over the top, only about 30 riders remained in the chasing group. All of the heavy hitters were there. Notably present was Sagan, Zdenek Stybar, Gilbert, and Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), Naeson, and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal). Surprisingly, Flanders rookies Wout van Aert (Veranda’s Willems-Crelan) and Nibali were also keeping pace with the group.

The Kruisberg came next with less than 30 kilometers to go. No one was able to get a gap on the climb, but Nibali put in a powerful attack over the top and got a gap. Terpstra was the only one to follow to him.

However, Nibali didn’t have the legs and Terpstra soon set off alone. The group behind with all of the main pre-race favorites looked at each. Cooperation within the bunch was poor and soon Terpstra was out of sight.

There were still the three breakaway riders left up the road, as Terpstra powered toward the Oude Kwaremont for the final time. The Quick-Step Floors rider flew past the trio on the Oude Kwaremont. None of them were able to keep pace with him.

Terpstra entered the final climb, the Paterberg with a 40-second advantage over the chase group containing the favorites.

Sagan attacked after the Paterberg and set off alone in pursuit of Terpstra and Pedersen. Pedersen was punching well above his weight and was managing to hold off the chasing favorites behind him. Sagan would eventually sit-up and wait for the group. He realized he wasn’t gaining any ground on Terpstra and Pedersen and looked instead to save his legs for the final sprint. 11 riders formed the chase group and would sprint for the final podium spot.

Gilbert would spoil the party for the final sprint to the line and attack away from the group inside the final kilometer. Valgren followed, but was unable to truly contest Gilbert for third. With Valgren’s fourth-place finish, two Danish riders appeared in the top four on the results sheet. Van Avermaet took the honor of leading home the chase group.

Terpstra has had a stellar spring campaign thus far, having won the “mini” Tour of Flanders, E3 Harelbeke, just over a week ago. He’ll now look to Paris-Roubaix where he’s had success in the past with a victory in 2014 on his palmares.

Full results

  • 1. Niki Terpstra, (NED) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, in 06:21:25
  • 2. Mads Pedersen, (DEN) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:00:12
  • 3. Philippe Gilbert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:00:17
  • 4. Michael Valgren Andersen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:00:20
  • 5. Greg Van Avermaet, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:00:25
  • 6. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:00:25
  • 7. Jasper Stuyven, (BEL) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:00:25
  • 8. Tiesj Benoot, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:00:25
  • 9. Wout Van Aert, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 0:00:25
  • 10. Zdenek Štybar, (CZE) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:00:25
  • 11. Oliver Naesen, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:00:25
  • 12. Dylan Van Baarle, (NED) TEAM SKY, at 0:00:25
  • 13. Sep Vanmarcke, (BEL) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 0:00:25
  • 14. Timo Roosen, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 0:01:09
  • 15. Arnaud Demare, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 0:01:13
  • 16. Alexander Kristoff, (NOR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:01:13
  • 17. Nils Politt, (GER) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 0:01:13
  • 18. Mike Teunissen, (NED) TEAM SUNWEB, at 0:01:13
  • 19. Edvald Boasson Hagen, (NOR) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 0:01:13
  • 20. Magnus Cort Nielsen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:01:13
  • 21. Gianni Moscon, (ITA) TEAM SKY, at 0:01:13
  • 22. Sebastian Langeveld, (NED) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 0:01:15
  • 23. Sonny Colbrelli, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:01:15
  • 24. Vincenzo Nibali, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:01:18
  • 25. Heinrich Haussler, (AUS) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:01:24
  • 26. Daniel Oss, (ITA) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:03:16
  • 27. Jurgen Roelandts, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:03:16
  • 28. Michal Kwiatkowski, (POL) TEAM SKY, at 0:03:16
  • 29. Yves Lampaert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:03:16
  • 30. Tom Devriendt, (BEL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 0:03:40
  • 31. Jean-Pierre Drucker, (LUX) BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:03:40
  • 32. John Degenkolb, (GER) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:03:40
  • 33. Viacheslav Kuznetsov, (RUS) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 0:03:40
  • 34. Laurens De Vreese, (BEL) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:03:40
  • 35. Jimmy Turgis, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 0:03:40
  • 36. Stijn Vandenbergh, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:03:40
  • 37. Ivan Garcia Cortina, (ESP) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:03:40
  • 38. Frederik Backaert, (BEL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 0:03:40
  • 39. Gregory Rast, (SUI) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:03:40
  • 40. Sven Erik BystrØm, (NOR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:03:40
  • 41. Julien Vermote, (BEL) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 0:03:40
  • 42. Koen De Kort, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:03:40
  • 43. Amund Grøndahl Jansen, (NOR) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 0:03:44
  • 44. Florian Senechal, (FRA) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:03:47
  • 45. Matteo Trentin, (ITA) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 0:04:10
  • 46. Kristijan Koren, (SLO) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:04:10
  • 47. Piet Allegaert, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 0:04:10
  • 48. Davide Cimolai, (ITA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 0:04:10
  • 49. Marco Marcato, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:04:10
  • 50. Sacha Modolo, (ITA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 0:04:10
  • 51. Marcus Burghardt, (GER) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:04:10
  • 52. Oscar Gatto, (ITA) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:04:10
  • 53. Søren Kragh Andersen, (DEN) TEAM SUNWEB, at 0:05:49
  • 54. Maarten Wynants, (BEL) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 0:07:34
  • 55. Stefan KÜng, (SUI) BMC RACING TEAM, at 0:07:34
  • 56. Jos Van Emden, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 0:08:18
  • 57. Jasper De Buyst, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:08:18
  • 58. Marcel Sieberg, (GER) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:08:18
  • 59. Hugo Houle, (CAN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:08:18
  • 60. Imanol Erviti, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:08:18
  • 61. Jens Debusschere, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:08:18
  • 62. Nelson Oliveira, (POR) MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:08:18
  • 63. Tony Martin, (GER) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 0:08:18
  • 64. Luke Durbridge, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 0:08:18
  • 65. Carlos Barbero, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:09:14
  • 66. Julien Duval, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:09:14
  • 67. Nico Denz, (GER) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:09:14
  • 68. Dion Smith, (NZL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 0:09:14
  • 69. Alex Kirsch, (LUX) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 0:09:14
  • 70. Huub Duijn, (NED) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 0:09:14
  • 71. Patrick MÜller, (SUI) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 0:09:14
  • 72. Pim Ligthart, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at 0:09:14
  • 73. Michal Golas, (POL) TEAM SKY, at 0:09:14
  • 74. Lars Bak Ytting, (DEN) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:09:14
  • 75. Lukas Spengler, (SUI) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 0:09:14
  • 76. Iljo Keisse, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 0:09:14
  • 77. Lennard Hofstede, (NED) TEAM SUNWEB, at 0:09:14
  • 78. Olivier Le Gac, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 0:09:14
  • 79. Ignatas Konovalovas, (LTU) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 0:09:14
  • 81. Oliviero Troia, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:09:14
  • 82. Jelle Wallays, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at 0:09:14
  • 83. Mathew Hayman, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 0:09:14
  • 84. Luka Mezgec, (SLO) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 0:09:14
  • 85. Luka Pibernik, (SLO) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 0:09:14
  • 86. Bert Van Lerberghe, (BEL) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 0:09:14
  • 87. Sean De Bie, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 0:13:12
  • 88. Amaury Capiot, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 0:13:12
  • 89. Christoph Pfingsten, (GER) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:14:31
  • 90. Dimitri Peyskens, (BEL) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 0:14:31
  • 91. Benjamin Declercq, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 0:14:31
  • 92. Juraj Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:14:31
  • 93. Ryan Mullen, (IRL) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:14:31
  • 94. Jan Willem Van Schip, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at 0:14:31
  • 95. Jaco Venter, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 0:14:31
  • 96. Nicolas Dougall, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 0:14:31
  • 97. Ramon Sinkeldam, (NED) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 0:14:31
  • 98. Matti Breschel, (DEN) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 0:14:31
  • 99. Alexander Edmondson, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 0:14:31
  • 100. Taylor Phinney, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 0:14:31
  • 101. Baptiste Planckaert, (BEL) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 0:14:31
  • 102. Justin Jules, (FRA) WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 0:14:31
  • 103. Cyril Lemoine, (FRA) COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 0:14:31
  • 104. Stijn Steels, (BEL) VERANDA’S WILLEMS – CRELAN, at 0:14:31

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