Niki Terpstra rides onto Paris-Roubaix podium
The Dutchman capped off an amazing cobbled Classics campaign with a solid third place in the "Hell of the North".
Niki Terpstra took his third podium in eleven Paris-Roubaix participations, after riding away from a strong chasing group inside the closing kilometers of the race and arriving on the famed André-Pétrieux Velodrome less than a minute behind Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Silvan Dillier (AG2R), who led the race for the last 50 kilometers.
Quick-Step Floors was again prominent in the third Monument of the year, controlling the bunch from kilometer zero with Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse, before a massive crash split the peloton on Troisvilles, the day's first cobbled sector. A few Quick-Step Floors riders got caught behind that pile-up, but everything was back together before for the infamous Arenberg Forest, where Philippe Gilbert opened a 20-second gap after covering an attack of Mike Teunissen (Team Sunweb), just as the nine-man breakaway began fragmenting.
The move was shut down some 75 kilometers from the finish, but soon after was followed by an acceleration of Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar, who for the next three cobbled sectors left everyone trailing before being reeled in on Orchies. Then, on Bersée, just as Quick-Step Floors nullified a dangerous move of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Peter Sagan went clear and took advantage of the lack of cooperation behind to put half a minute between him and the chasers, and bridge to the remnants of the early escape.
Niki Terpstra was the one doing most of the work in the chasing group, attacking on the five-star sector of Mons-en-Pévèle and forcing an important selection. Only a handful of riders could follow the Ronde van Vlaanderen champion, who put in two more searing accelerations, on Carrefour de l'Arbre and then with 1500 meters left, dispatching all his companions and entering alone on the Roubaix velodrome, where he notched up his sixth podium finish in a Monument.
The 33-year-old, whose result meant a Quick-Step Floors rider concluded Paris-Roubaix in the top-3 for a seventh consecutive season, didn't have any regrets at the end of the 257km-long "Queen of the Classics".
"I am happy, but not as happy as last week. Still, a podium in Roubaix is always special and today it came after a race in which I felt really good. We attacked, did an aggressive race, but weren't in the first row when Sagan attacked, so we couldn't close that gap. Anyway, he was the strongest rider today, so congrats to him", said Niki, before looking back on the squad's memorable campaign. "Our spring has been truly amazing, we've won nine-day races and currently have a total of 25 victories, so I think we can be proud of this remarkable string of achievements."
On Sunday, Zdenek Stybar proved he is one of the most consistent Paris-Roubaix riders in recent years, by claiming another top ten finish, while teammate Philippe Gilbert – who made his first outing in 11 years here – arrived home in a strong 15th place. Their results, combined with the one of Terpstra (who is second in the World Tour individual classification), helped Quick-Step Floors further extend its advantage at the top of the World Tour team standings, our outfit being almost 2000 points clear of the next squad.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images