Niki Terpstra Interview: “It’s hard to do as well as last year, but we’re going to try”
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Niki Terpstra Interview: “It’s hard to do as well as last year, but we’re going to try”

by Ben Atkins at 4:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Spring Classics, Track
 
Dutch champion motivated for another successful Classics season following Six-Day success

niki terpstraNiki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is looking ahead to what he hopes will be another successful Classics season for the Belgian team. The Dutch champion was a key part of last year’s unprecedented campaign for the Belgian team, picking up a prestigious solo victory in the Dwars door Vlaanderen, as well as picking up sixth and fifth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix respectively, having helped teammate Tom Boonen to victory in both races.

Terpstra is one of just three Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders to have raced already this year, however. Czech cyclocross star Zdeněk Štybar raced to second in the GP Sven Nys on New Year’s Day, before going on to successfully defend his national title 11 days later. The Dutch champion has been racing indoors though, along with Belgian teammate Iljo Keisse, and won the Rotterdam Six-Days in the first week of January.

“The condition must be good, eh?” he smiled to VeloNation shortly after racing against Keisse in a special Derny race at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team presentation. “This is a big Six-Days, the biggest of Holland, and I think internationally it’s one of the nicest Six-Days to ride.

“I already won Amsterdam with Iljo, so I was really motivated to also win Rotterdam, and have my name on the border next to the other big names,” he added.

Having won in Rotterdam, however, as well as in Amsterdam earlier in the winter, both riders will now put their track bikes away, and focus on the upcoming road season.

“Yeah, I only do the two Dutch Six-Days,” Terpstra confirmed.

Having only just finished his track season though, Terpstra will not be part of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s team for the earliest races in the year - the Tour Down Under and Tour de San Luis - but will begin his season in a race that the Belgian team has almost made its own over the years.

“We’re going to the desert!” he laughed. “To Qatar; that will be the first race after this.”

Delivering on an unbelievable 2012 Classics season

Along with the rest of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Terpstra is looking to try to match the season that the Belgian team enjoyed in 2012, which saw Boonen dominate the Cobbled Classics in a virtually unprecedented way, with Terpstra picking up Dwars door, and Sylvain Chavanel winning the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.

“Definitely,” the Dutchman smiled. “Last year I felt good, now I feel good, there’s not a big difference, I think. We’re all motivated, but the big difference in the team is that last year we had a bad season behind us, and now we have a superb season behind us. So actually it’s like we’re defending our Classics, and it’s going to be a tough goal to defend…”

Despite having the confidence of an incredible 2012 season behind them, however, Terpstra and his teammates will surely be put under even more pressure by their opposition.

“I think, of course, a lot of teams will be watching us and we have a lot of responsibility,” he reasoned. “Its’ not going to be easy. I hope we can do well in the big Classics; I think it’s hard to do as well as last year, but we’re going to try.”

Terpstra’s presence in the team in 2012 provided what seemed to be lacking in 2011, where Boonen’s Gent-Wevelgem victory was the bright spot of a difficult spring. All had been looking promising for the Dutchman, until a freak gust of wind during the time trial stage of De Panne-Koksijde threw him from his bike and he fractured his collarbone.

“I was in good shape, and I was also Dutch champion at that moment, just new in the team - Quick Step - so I had a lot of motivation,” Terpstra remembered. “But I crashed in the time trial, and that was actually the beginning of all the bad luck of Quick Step, I think. After that it was only bad luck.”

Terpstra then had to sit out the rest of the team’s disappointing Classics campaign, unable to make a difference for his teammates, but more than made up for this in 2012.

“But not only me, but all the guys,” he said. “If you look at the team of last year, it was actually almost the same as the year before; the 2012 Classics team was almost the same as 2011, only in 2011 we hadn’t any luck at all.

“Last year we were also good, the same class, we were just lucky, and motivated, and things were just falling in the right places. Or we didn’t fall!” he joked.

Launching Boonen to a record Paris-Roubaix victory

Terpstra played a big part in what was to be one of the most impressive performances of the 2012 season, as he helped launch Tom Boonen’s solo 53km winning attack in Paris-Roubaix. With 56km to go, while in the company of Cobble specialists Alessandro Ballan and Filippo Pozzato, and rising Frenchman Sébastien Turgot, the two Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates accelerated and left the rest behind.

A few kilometres later Terpstra was forced to let Boonen go, with the Belgian going on to equal Roger De Vlaeminck’s record of four victories in the Queen of the Classics.

“It wasn’t planned, but the moment was there,” Terpstra explained. “Tom and me actually looked at each other and started going full gas.

“We didn’t speak! We just looked and we saw that everybody was f***ed, and so we just felt that ‘this is the moment.’ So we go, and then I already felt on the wheel of Tom that it was going to be hard; then on the cobblestone section that was coming after that, there was a crosswind, and that was my bad luck. He was just going too fast.

Once alone, Boonen was unstoppable, and won the race with one of the longest solo breaks in the modern history of the race. Terpstra himself drifted back to the chasing group and, having played his part in disrupting the chase of his team captain, sprinted to fifth in the famous velodrome.

“I needed one minute of recovery, then I was good again,” he explained. “So in the group behind I felt great again, but I was just too long in the red zone. I needed one minute of better recovery, but I didn’t have the recovery at the wheel of Tom!”

Jokingly asked whether maybe Boonen might repay the compliment this time, Terpstra laughed.

“I hope I can keep his wheel!” he exclaimed.

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