Italian star Vincenzo Nibali gives his verdict on his first ever experience racing the Tour of Flanders
Nibali, the surprise Milan-San Remo victor two weeks ago, formed the winning move in Flanders with an attack after the Kruisberg that brought a reaction from Terpstra.
Terpstra countered to move free on his own at 26 kilometres to go until the finish. Nibali finished in 24th.
“It was a particular race, I never saw something like that,” Nibali, winner of all three Grand Tours, said. “Fans on the road from the start to finish. I was six hours stressed and concentrated.
“I’d only ever seen it in TV, but from the start to finish, it was a war or a battle. I thought it’d be more calm in the first part but instead it was on from the start to finish.
“The riders here are explosive and they are doing sprints leading to the climbs to force gaps. You have to be fifth or sixth, or maximum 10th, or you are going to be gapped.”
The 33-year-old added the Tour of Flanders on his calendar because he always dreamed of riding the famous cobbled classic and it would help prepare him some for the Tour de France’s ‘Paris-Roubaix’ stage nine this year.
Some thought that maybe he would be a factor in the race after his show of force in Milan-San Remo. He attacked at 6.4 kilometres out and rode solo to the line on Via Roma.
He bumped elbows with Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) in Flanders on Sunday. He survived the first round of Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, and shot away with 28 kilometres to race.
“There where I attacked, the road went up a little bit. In Flanders, it’s right to do it. Sometimes you need to anticipate in Flanders. It can work, but Terpstra was just impressive,” Nibali added.
“I did what I did because I wanted to see what’s possible. I did, but Terpstra had another set of legs and an impressive rhythm. It’s normal when you base your season around these races you can have that speed.”
Nibali rushed to the airport with Michal Kwiatkowski to catch a flight to Spain for the País Vasco stage race. He starts there tomorrow and races Liège-Bastogne-Liège in three weeks. Afterwards, he builds for the Tour de France.
“I don’t know when I’ll return. I need a more precise lead-up with the races beforehand,” he said.
“I came here a little bit just at the last minute, so I’d need to be ready and do it right.”