Peter Sagan berates Niki Terpstra for not working in Ghent-Wevelgem

After losing out in Ghent-Wevelgem to classics rival Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan says he has added motivation to do well in the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan leads the front group before it split in the finale.
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) leaves Wevelgem this evening wondering what his rivals were thinking in the Belgian classic Ghent-Wevelgem. He says that he was confused by the “cheap game” of Niki Terpstra (Quick Step Floors), who watched as Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) rode away to another win.

With 16 kilometres left in the 249.2-kilometre WorldTour race, Olympic champion and Friday's E3 Harelbeke winner Van Avermaet charged away with Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott). Terpstra looked at Sagan and let a gap open.

"Nothing," Sagan said of what happened. He stepped off the podium, where he collected the flowers for third place.

"I just don't know what Terpstra wanted to do. He attacked to go in the breakaway and afterwards he doesn't want to work. This is just one example of how you can lose the race against me."

>>> Greg Van Avermaet wins nail-biting edition of Ghent-Wevelgem to complete classics treble

Sagan already won this race in 2013 and last year. Like in most races, he was a heavy favourite at the start of the day.

Because of "nothing" happening, Sagan was forced to chase the Belgian duo immediately. They could not close, but Sagan salvaged a third place and WorldTour points ahead of a chasing group.

"What can I do? I am not his team-mate,” Sagan continued. “I'm not going to work, for what, for him to beat me in the sprint afterwards? I can decide today who wins."

Greg Van Avermaet wins 2017 Ghent-Wevelgem. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Van Avermaet forced the winning move when he attacked up the Kemmelberg. Sagan motored up to him and on the descent, the group grew to around 14 cyclists.

Keukeleire broke up that group with 20 kilometres to race to just him, Van Avermaet, Sagan, Terpstra and young Dane Søren Andersen (Sunweb). Then Van Avermaet motored away.

"There was a moment of doubt," explained Terpstra, who stepped off the bus after showering.

"Also Sagan was frustrated, we both let the gap open. Andersen didn't do anything, almost, and that was the biggest frustration for both me and Sagan. It wasn't for me to close the gap, and then they were gone."

Quick-Step argued with Sagan that it had sprinters Matteo Trentin in the immediate chase group and Fernando Gaviria further behind. Andersen's team-mates and sprinter Michael Matthews rode in the Trentin group too.

Sagan closed the gap to around eight seconds at one point. Terpstra began to help, but it was too late.

>>> Team Sky blame poor positioning and bad luck after disappointing Ghent-Wevelgem

"It's a missed opportunity," Terpstra added. "It went wrong for me and the team, but I'm happy that the shape is good and the team is OK. And that I didn't fall, because there were times I was in a crash and didn't fall."

Terpstra climbed back in the bus. Sagan finished his moment in the mixed zone before riding to his Bora bus.

"Disappointed? It's not disappointment, I'm more motivated," Sagan said. "If you win always, then maybe you lose motivation. Now, I'm motivated to take a victory.”

The Slovakian returns home to Monaco this week to train ahead of the Tour of Flanders next Sunday. He leaves Wevelgem motivated, but bitter as well.

He added, "but against everybody, this is not sport, just... I don't know, a very cheap game."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.