OPQS Best Moments 2014: Niki Wins the 'Hell of the North'!
With 2014 nearing its end, and 67 overall OPQS victories (64 road, 1 cyclocross, 2 track), it is time to recap the best 10 moments of the season. While it was difficult to pick just 10 out of a highly successful year, these moments certainly stood out and deserve special mention.
Our fourth best moment is a "Monumental" one: Niki Terpstra winning Paris-Roubaix.
With three OPQS riders in an 11 rider select group approaching 6 kilometers to go, including Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar, Terpstra decided to take matters into his own hands. The group included almost all of the race favorites including Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin ProCycling), and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
It looked to be very close in the final kilometers. Terpstra's gap was down to less than 9" inside 4.5km to go. However, Terpstra's teammates helped to control the pace of the chasing group behind, and he continued to go full gas. As a result of his fantastic effort on a perfectly timed attack, he reached the Roubaix velodrome with a gap between 16 and 20 seconds.
Terpstra still looked behind him before celebrating during the bell lap, but had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration for the 24th (22nd road) victory for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2014. Stybar finished 5th and Boonen 10th. Terpstra is now ranked 3rd in the UCI WorldTour Individual Classification with 200 points, and OPQS has further solidified their 1st place UCI WorldTour team ranking with 543 points.
Boonen was a major factor in the success of OPQS. He attacked with about 64 kilometers to go, and that was the major animation of the race. A selection of riders slowly bridged to his group as the race pressed on. One rider included Peter Sagan. Sagan tried his best to attack out of a new select group formation with more than 20 kilometers to go, but the pace of the chase group behind him was too much and he was caught with 15.3km to go by Cancellara, Vanmarcke, OPQS rider Zdenek Stybar, and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). Boonen was behind with Terpstra.
That group caught the leaders inside the final 10 kilometers, and it was up to that very powerful group to decide who would win Paris-Roubaix. OPQS had the advantage with three riders present.
It was Terpstra who decided to not give any other riders a chance, and his gamble proved to be the right one as he went on to victory.
"I feel happy, but really tired," Niki Terpstra said with a laugh. "When we came together in the last cobblestone section — at the end of the cobblestones — Wilfried Peeters told us if we go for the sprint we go with Tom. But, if you can attack, it's always good to open the final. So it was up to me and Zdenek to attack and they know I like to do it. So, 20 seconds later I attacked. It was the good one. When I looked behind me I saw there was a gap, so it was just full gas to the finish line. Don't look back, because that doesn't help. They will come back anyway if you check or not. Then, when I was crossing the finish line, it was just really special. I'm so satisfied. Finally I won a big one. We had a healthy, comfortable pressure from within the team to perform. The kind that motivates us to do well. We won a lot of races but not a big one yet. We wanted to prove we can win a big one. Today we really proved we are a strong team that can also win the biggest races. As for me, two years ago I was 5th, and last year I was 3rd. If you can finish in the top 10 here you can also, with a bit of luck, win it. Last year I was really close and this year I made it. Since I was a little child and I started cycling, Paris-Roubaix was the most special race for me. Now I won it. It's a dream come true. Paris Roubaix is a crazy race, old fashioned, but that's why it's special and why I love it that much. It was really my lucky day."
Terpstra also had plenty to look back on with 2014.
"This year, my dream came true: winning Paris-Roubaix," Terpstra said. "It was an unbelievable experience, and I'm still very grateful. It has been an amazing season in which I also celebrated wins in the Tour of Qatar and Dwars door Vlaanderen. Cycling is about a lot of things, such as team-mates; they help you, you help them. Therefore, I really want to thank them. But next to my team-mates from OPQS, I also have a very good team at home and I couldn't have done the things I did last year without them. My wife, my son, my daughter, my family and my friends. I almost can't think of a better peloton! Thanks all for your support."