26-Mar-2014: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team put on yet another show at a Belgian race in 2014. They opened the cobbled Classics with a victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, after executing perfect race tactics that included Niki Terpstra attacking on the Paterberg to eventually win solo.
Thanks to Gert Steegmans placing himself on the back of a chase group, Tom Boonen covering an attack out of the peloton, and a fighting spirit that accompanied strong legs of former Dutch Champion Niki Terpstra, the former Dutch champion was able to reach the final kilometers with about a 30″ advantage. When he first attacked, his gap was about 11 seconds. However, with about 20km to go his advantage had quickly climbed to more than 20 seconds. Despite three more climbs before the finish, Terpstra was able to hold his power and win alone, just as he did in the 2012 edition.
Nikolas Maes was the first protagonist for OPQS, going into the original breakaway that was caught by the time Terpstra had passed them and established himself as a lone breakaway rider. The race was a tactical masterpiece for OPQS, as the team covered every move and was constantly a protagonist.
This is the 18th win, in three disciplines, for OPQS in 2014. Terpstra now has three victories including a stage and an overall win at Tour of Qatar.
“I feel really great,” Terpstra said. “I was very motivated for this race, as well as the upcoming races. I trained really well for this, put a lot of effort into this. When it pays off, it’s a great feeling. Of course this race is on the Flemish roads with the small hills, the Pavé, and a lot of wind. This race is suited for a guy like me. The attack on the Paterberg wasn’t planned, but in the final we know we have to be in front when we reach that point. I passed the front group on the Paterberg, I accelerated, and then I was alone. I knew the team was behind me to defend my attack. So, it gave me a lot of morale. I put myself in time trial mode and went to the finish. This was actually a long time trial for me. It was all headwind until the finish. I gave the best I could and in the end I still had a lot of force in my legs. I could go at a good speed and I took the win. In the last kilometer I couldn’t see the gap behind me. But on the last 600 meters I could see they weren’t behind me. It gave me a good feeling, but you never know until you cross the finish line. I’m really happy with it. I was able to finish the job of the whole team and I am happy with my condition. The strategy of all the climbs, we had to be in front and go. That’s the strategy and it always is the strategy of OPQS in the Flemish races. We want to be in front and make the race hard. Now, we’re confident. But we still have to stay focused. There are still big races coming up. Because I won over here I am pretty confident for the next weeks. With the way the team raced today I think we are all confident for the next races of the Classics.”
“It was a very difficult race,” Boonen said. “It was the first race after last week, a very hard week for me and my partner. I think I have to be happy with the result. After the misery of last week I was expecting the worst. It was actually not so bad, so I think for Friday and Sunday it will be better. The condition is not gone, but with the emotions and everything, it was a very smart move to start today. I was not really on my best level yet, but it should be better this weekend. I tested myself on the Taaienberg. It was not a big test, it was just to get a few guys back from the breakaway. We were 30 seconds behind with 23 riders at that point. After that, in closing down the breakaway, we had to race a little bit in control. I’m pretty happy with my overall performance today. As for Friday, we will see. I hope my condition evolves back to the normal level I had last week. Anything is possible, but I still have to improve. In any case, I am happy I was able to contribute to my team today and even cover an attack in support of Niki. Congratulations to him winning solo today, he really deserved it.”