Specialized takes blame for catastrophic component failure that caused Niki Terpstra’s Paris-Roubaix crash

American company says "miscommunication" led to Terpstra's bike having pre-production steerer cartridge for race

Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) after crashing in Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Specialized has taken full responsibility for the crash that put Niki Terpstra out of Paris-Roubaix, after a pre-production part suffered a catastrophic failure on the cobbles.

Terpstra crashed on the Maing to Monchaux-sur-Écaillon cobbled sector, with dramatic photos of the incident showing that his stem and steerer tube had detached, sending the Dutchman over his detached bars and on to the cobbles.

According to Mark Cote, Specialized's leader of global marketing, and Mike Sinyard, Specialized's CEO, the failure was caused by a “miscommunication” that led to Terpstra using an unsuitable pre-production version of a rigid steer cartridge, rather than an engineered version that had been designed to survive the race.

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Terpstra was the only rider on this rigid system, with all other riders from Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step Floors using the FutureShock system of their Specialized Roubaix bikes.

“The rigid steer cartridge is an aluminium part connecting the steerer tube and the stem, supporting Niki's feedback that he wanted the bike to be fully rigid for the race,” explained Cote.

“We made a pre-production model back in January for him to try out in a few test rides. After that we went back to Morgan Hill [Specialized’s headquarters] and engineered another improved model and brought five new rigid cartridges back to Europe.

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“The problem was that there was a miscommunication on Specialized’s marketing team and the original pre-production sample never got taken away from Quick-Step, and the engineered samples never got put on any of the bikes.”

“That meant Niki raced with the original pre-production model that never went through full safety testing, and that’s the part that failed."

Specialized has looked at Terpstra’s bike following the crash and says that there were no problems with the frame and fork that Terpstra was riding, with the crash being caused by a crack in the aluminium of the pre-production component that should have been with Specialized rather than on the former Dutch champion’s bike.

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Photos of the crash show Terpstra’s handlebars and stem detached from the rest of the bike, with the 2014 race winner sat bloodied at the side of the road, being forced to abandon a race where he would have provided his team with another option along with Tom Boonen and eventual second-place Zdenek Stybar.

Terpstra suffered nothing more than cuts and bruises, with Cote and Sinyard apologising after the race.

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"We’re gutted about this," Cote continued, "but we’re so glad that Niki is OK.

"He’s injured and he’s bashed up, but myself and Mike Sinyard have spoken to him and apologised in person, but we know that doesn’t bring the race back.

"This is an isolated incident and doesn't affect any of the other race bikes or any production Future Shock equipped bikes, including the Specialized Ruby and Roubaix."

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.