Niki Terpstra left empty-handed after aggressive effort at the E3
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Niki Terpstra left empty-handed after aggressive effort at the E3

by Jered Gruber at 5:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
QuickStep's Dutch champion showed himself as one of the race's strongest

While it is little comfort to Niki Terpstra or his QuickStep team, the Dutch champion showed himself as one of the absolute strongest riders in the race on Saturday. Unfortunately, the strength Terpstra had to offer, was not in the same solar system of Fabian Cancellara.

Terpstra was omnipresent in yesterday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. The always aggressive rider was the father of many a move and was attached to just as many, but unfortunately, when he crossed the line in Harelbeke, 14th was all he had to show for his excellent effort.

"I had a very nice ride, but in the end, nothing to show for my efforts," said the QuickStep rider to De Telegraaf after finishing.

Terpstra was extremely active before and after Cancellara's attack. He set a blistering pace up the Knokteberg in the chase group behind the storming Cancellara, but even that effort was only enough to hold the four-time World Time Trial champion even.

Afterwards, Terpstra admitted his intention to get away to fight for a result from a smaller group.

"I wanted to, and I tried a few times to get away, even after Cancellara was gone, but I never got much space unfortunately. Sprinting for a place of honor is not my strong suit."

The fourteen rider group behind Cancellara seemed an evenly matched one, and none too interested in letting any riders escape in the latter stages. It goes to show just how powerful the Leopard Trek captain's move was, as the group was anything but done for when Cancellara accelerated, got a few meter gap, and then simply rode away.

In a rare moment of non-criticism for a rider who finished 14th in a cobbled classic, Terpstra's manager, Patrick Lefevere, had only complimentary words for his 2011 addition.

"Niki raced well, unfortunately, he didn't get anything for it. He proved his good condition heading into the big races though."

The big question now? Is Tom Boonen somewhere close to the level of Fabian Cancellara? If so, Terpstra seems ready to take on his role as one of Boonen's most important teammates.

Of course, the question above does not lend itself to an affirmative answer. Cancellara showed himself to be in a class unto himself against the assembled field in Harelbeke yesterday. Sure, today's World Tour classified Gent-Wevelgem has a stronger field, but was the E3's field that bad? No. When was the last time a rider put on a display of that kind of dominance? It could be said that it was around this time last year, at Flanders and Roubaix, by the same rider.

Terpstra, Boonen, and the QuickStep team are going to have their hands full next Sunday en route to Meerbeke.


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