Terpstra Wins Paris-Roubaix
In making Paris-Roubaix predictions, one observer wrote of Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), “He will not be a free agent, but he could surprise in support of Tom Boonen. One overlooks him at one’s peril.”
In making Paris-Roubaix predictions, one observer wrote (page 2) of Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), “He will not be a free agent, but he could surprise in support of Tom Boonen. One overlooks him at one’s peril.” Today, the peloton learned the truth of that statement. Terpstra slipped away from an 11-man lead group with six kilometers remaining and won the 257-km Hell of the North in 6:09:01. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) outsprinted defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek) for second at 0:20.
At the start line, the weather was chilly but sunny. Three kilometers after the flag came down, John Murphy (United Healthcare), Kenny de Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura), Clement Koretzky and Benoit Jarrier (both from Bretagne-Seche Environnement), David Boucher (FDJ.fr), Tim De Troyer (Wanty-Groupe Robert), and Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) sallied off of the front. The octet ran up a nine-minute lead within an hour, at which time Belkin, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Trek, and Katusha began to chase. The escapees’ advantage began to drop as the peloton approached Sector 28 (97.5 kilometers), the day’s first section of cobbles, in Troisvilles.
Crashes and flats began to make themselves felt, as they always do in Paris-Roubaix. Boonen punctured and rejoined easily, and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) punctured and then crashed. Still, the bunch had cut the break’s lead to six minutes at the end of Sector 20 (142 km).
Near Denain, the misfortunes increased. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) punctured. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was the victim of a large crash. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) punctured and chased hard to rejoin the peloton before it reached the Arenberg Trench.
Sky led the field up to the Trench. Ahead, attrition took its toll. Boucher, Koretzsky, and De Haes punctured, although Boucher got back on, and Kolar was dropped. In the peloton, Gregory Rast (Trek) flatted, as did Kristoff. When the peloton entered the Arenberg Forest, it was 4:20 behind the fugitives.
After leaving the Arenberg, a train crossing stopped Boucher. Just before Sector 16, Hayden Roulston (Trek) crashed and took many riders down with him. The mishap took down Trek team captain Cancellara and split the field into several groups. Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the field onto Sector 16. Cancellara and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) chased to catch the lead group. Thor Hushovd (BMC) attacked from that that group, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step reeled him in. The former world champion tried again and was caught again.
The break, which led the peloton by one minute, was down to three riders. After the lead group left Sector 14, Bert De Backer (Giant-Shimano), Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ.fr), and Yannick Martinez (Europcar) attacked. One sector later, Boonen bridged up to the move. BMC went to the front of the peloton and kept the move from getting too far ahead of the bunch.
Boonen accelerated again, and De Backer, Martinez, and Thomas stayed with him. BMC throttled back, but no one took up the chase. With 40 km left, the break led the bunch by 0:50.
With 35 km left, Sagan attacked from the peloton, and Maarten Wynants