Niki Terpstra: 'I know how annoying team dominance can be'

Quick-Step Floors controlled the race and ended up taking the victory as well as second place

Niki Terpstra leads Yves Lampaert at the 2018 E3 Harelbeke (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Quick-Step Floors admit that it must have been annoying to be in another team and racing against them in Belgium's E3 Harelbeke, capped off with a victory by Dutchman Niki Terpstra.

They led the race when a crash happened behind midway and continued dominating from there. Terpstra rode clear with team-mate Yves Lampaert on the Taaienberg where Tom Boonen used to fire. Philippe Gilbert or Zdenek Stybar would then mark anyone who tried to chase from behind.

>>> No regrets for Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan despite mixed fortunes at E3 Harelbeke

"That played a really big part in my victory. A really big part," Terpstra said of the team's dominance.

"If the group behind was cooperating, then the Quick-Step guys would get in between again. I know how annoying that can be. It can make the difference in the end.

Philippe Gilbert, Florian Senechal and Zdenek Stybar at the 2018 E3 Harelbeke (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

"I didn't see all of it yet in the replay, but for sure, I want to watch it back on TV."

On TV, at times it looked like a wave of blue. Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse pushed the team through the early kilometres and at the head, which saw the Belgium WorldTour team avoid the major pileup at 100 kilometres remaining.

"We rode a lot," Gilbert said. "This is very good for our morale. As a team, we played it perfectly.

"We showed a real team spirit. Niki was on the attack and in the back, Zdenek and I were stopping. "

Gilbert last year won one of his biggest victories from a massive solo attack in the Tour of Flanders, having moved teams from BMC Racing to Quick-Step that year.

"Last year, I benefited from the work and the impressive force of the team. This time it was Niki's turn. If you ride in such a strong team, you have to respect the tactics and play the game professionally."

Gilbert at one point began to bridge to his two team-mates up the road. It seemed Quick-Step would blanket the podium. Then, Terpstra's advantage, with Lampaert gone, began to drop. However, he still maintained 20 seconds at the finish line, where Gilbert led the group behind for second place.

Quick-Step Floors easily leads the victory table for 2018 so far with 18. The next best, Team Sky, counts 13.

"Our team rode a fantastic race. It's started. We are comfortable now for the coming races," Lampaert added. "Now it is up to the other teams to take control of the next races.

"We had said before the start that we would not be leading today and left the initiative to the other teams. In the end, we did it anyway.

"Actually, we always take control of the race. Taking a race in our hands is in our nature."

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