National Road Championships: Two Championships & Two Silver Medals!
Etixx - Quick-Step riders participated in eight different National Road Championships on Sunday, with half of those races ending in a victory or a silver medal.
Niki Terpstra won the 253km Dutch Road Championship out of a sprint, as the peloton caught the lead group in the final kilometers even though the breakaway riders had a gap of at least 16 minutes at one point in the race. Terpstra, despite coming through the final corner in about 2nd position, passed Ramon Sinkeldam in the final meters to win his third National Road Championship of his career. Danny Van Poppel was 3rd.
"I am happy because this is the third national title on the road in my career, but probably the most difficult of the three," Terpstra said. "The race was really crazy. There was a breakway group with about eight riders that took more than 16 minutes of an advantage. No one wanted to work to close the gap. In the last laps we worked hard to bring these guys back. In the last lap I thought maybe I could be there and do the final. We caught the breakaway at about 6 or 7 kilometers to go and I knew in the last two or three kilometers there were a lot of corners where I could try to do something. It was also slippery due to the rain. So, I went at a certain moment and fortunately I took advantage of our tyres that are super good in wet conditions. Then I came into the final sprint with the other guys, but when I looked around me it was only sprinters. So, I was thinking I will end up with another 2nd place, but I gave everything and in the end I passed Sinkeldam and I won. After a few podium places during the Classics winning is important. This is also a special, as any time you can be a champion in your country, it is beautiful. I am really waiting for my Vermarc box to arrive with my Dutch outfit, so I can have a look and enjoy the moment when I will wear the jersey for the first time."
Petr Vakoc also won the Czech Republic Road Championship on Sunday, which means the Czech Champion colors stay in the team for a second consecutive season. Zdenek Stybar won the Czech road title in 2014. Leopold Konig was 2nd in the 2015 edition behind Vakoc, and Jiri Polnicky was 3rd.
"It's amazing," Vakoc said of his victory. "It's the first time I became national champion on the road in all my life, so it's a really great feeling. I knew I had a chance to win today, but it was a really hard race until the last meters. The race really started at 40 kilometers to go more or less, with the big guys like Peter Sagan, Jan Barta, Roman Kreuziger, and Konig starting to accelerate. There were a lot of attacks. At 20km to go I took my own chance to attack. I went and was joined by Sagan, and also Konig arrived. In the last cimb Sagan attacked, and I followed, and we dropped Konig. I was pushing to keep him away to try and win this title. In the finale we came together again, all 3 of us. Sagan went and he won the Slovak title. Konig and I started playing a bit for the Czech title. I attacked at 500 meters to go just before the top of the climb. I gave everything and took a small gap. When I looked behind me I saw that I was alone and I could finally celebrate my victory. But it wasn't easy. It was raining the entire day and the competition was really hard in the final. But I am happy, I showed in Baku I had good condition, and this win is basically icing on the cake. I really can't wait to ride with this jersey. I was often 2nd and 3rd in these championships in the past, but a national championship is another level. I want to celebrate this big achievement now with my family."
Those two victories mean Etixx - Quick-Step has earned 34 total road wins so far in the 2015 season.
Etixx - Quick-Step riders also earned two silver medals. Michal Golas was 2nd to Tomasz Marczynski in the Polish Road Championship, with Pawel Bernas placing 3rd.
"I was 2nd today, and it was a difficult race," Golas said. "We went away immediately at the start with a big group, then it was smaller and we arrived at the finish with about five riders. The finish wasn't so easy. It was a slight uphill finish. I was pretty confident as I felt strong the whole day. At 250 meters to go I tried to attack, but Marczynski passed me. He was stronger than me in the end and he won. I'm a little disappointed, I really wanted to win this jersey. It was a goal to go to the Tour de France with the Polish Champion jersey, but congratulations to the winner. I can say that my condition is good, riding well in a hard race with a long breakaway. I'm now looking forward to going to the Tour de France to support my team."
Mark Cavendish, after a gutsy effort in the British Road Championship on Sunday, was 2nd to Peter Kennaugh as it came down to those two riders out of a four-rider breakaway in the finale. Ian Stannard finished 3rd. Cavendish bridged to Stannard and Kennaugh with Luke Rowe on the penultimate lap, and was able to contest the race on an up-and-down circuit that also featured a tough, cobbled Michaelgate climb.
"I'm super happy with my performance today," Cavendish said. "I felt really strong throughout the whole race. I feel I'm in good form now going into the Tour de France. I'm looking forward to it."
Other top 5 or top 10 results from the National Road Championships on Sunday included Julian Alaphilippe placing 5th in the French Road Championship, Tom Boonen finishing 8th in the Belgian Road Championship, and Martin Velits placing 8th in the Slovak Road Championship.