Belgium’s super team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep caught the big fish it was after in northern France yesterday. Niki Terpstra’s win in Paris-Roubaix closed the cobbled season with the one General Manager Patrick Lefevere wanted.
“We have the most wins of any team,” Lefevere told Cycling Weekly, “but we wanted to catch a big fish.”
Niki Terpstra shot free from a group that included Sky riders Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, and two of his own Omega team-mates, Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar. He rode solo for the last 6.2 kilometres to net the team’s 22nd win of the season.
Lefevere stood in the velodrome’s infield. He appeared much happier than when the team went home empty-handed the week before in Oudenaarde, Belgium. He had four riders in the winning move at the Tour of Flanders but Fabian Cancellara ran away with the win.
“You always want the big fish, but you don’t always have the chance to catch it,” Lefevere said. “It’s the 22nd victory this season. We’ve won everything we’ve wanted to at the beginning of the season, even three of the six stages in País Vasco, where we’ve never had a result in the past. This team was ready to catch a big classic.”
With wins by Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin, Omega Pharma counts 22 wins so far this year. Giant-Shimano, according to Pro Cycling Stats, sits second at 17 wins. Sky ranks fifth with 10.
Followers were unsure who could give Omega Pharma its win. Boonen attacked early, at 65 kilometres out, and formed a group with Thomas. They lasted 45 kilometres, until 20 kilometres from the velodrome finish.
“Tom himself attacked but no one would ride. Then you see a strange situation where an ex-world champion like Thor Hushovd was in front and his own [BMC] team-mates were chasing after Tom.
“Thomas was working at a certain moment, then Tom attacked on the asphalt, not on the cobbles, and I think the others weren’t happy with his attack. But when they caught him again, because the whole day was a headwind, and they didn’t work anymore.
“We knew that Niki was good, we knew that Stybar was good and Tom, better than last week. Unfortunately, we were not in the race, we were never in the breakaway and we weren’t happy during the race… The good thing is that the bunch came back with Cancellara, we had two guys in it and all the cards to play.”
Terpstra, 29 from The Netherlands, won the Tour of Qatar and the Dwars door Vlaanderen classic this year but never such a ‘big fish’. The closest he came in Paris-Roubaix was a third place last year to Cancellara.
“This means he’s going to be more expensive when I try to renew his contract for next year!” Lefevere said.
“He bridged the last step from a very good gregario to a guy who can win big races. That’s still a big difference between winning Waregem [Dwars], with all due respect, than winning Paris-Roubaix.”
Niki Terpstra may not have been the strongest or fastest rider in Paris-Roubaix, but he might have been the smartest
Late solo move by Niki Terpstra nets him the biggest win of his career; Wiggins and Thomas finish in chase