Thundering through the rain, mud, and cobblestones, Niki Terpstra looked comfortable and confident as he rode away to win Le Samyn alone on Wednesday in Belgium. It was the Dutch champion’s first victory since July 2015.
“It was a really tough race, as we rode full gas from the beginning. The last 10 kilometers were the hardest of the entire race,” said Terpstra. “I knew I had about 15 seconds on Thwaites and I had to continue pulling. To make things even more difficult, the last three kilometers had a headwind and an uphill part. The weather conditions made the race beautiful in a strange way. I am happy with this victory, as it gives me confidence and comes as a confirmation that my condition is good for the upcoming classics.”
Between the wet conditions and tough cobble sectors, the midweek semi-classic was quite selective. Early action saw several favorites, including BMC’s Philippe Gilbert, abandon.
But Etixx – Quick-Step’s Terpstra was never far from the front of the race. He was part of a five-man breakaway — including Scott Thwaites (Bora – Argon18), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL – Jumbo), Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis), and Nils Politt (Katusha) — that went early during the local laps. A larger chase group caught the leaders inside of 17km to go.
Soon thereafter, four riders attacked, but it was Terpstra and Thwaites who went clear with about 15km to go. The British rider couldn’t keep the pace with Terpstra, a champion in Paris-Roubaix, and the Dutchman soloed away.
Tepstra had a 35-second lead over the remainder of the peloton with 10km left, while Thwaites dangled in no-man’s land.
Both men held on to their respective positions all the way to the finish in Dour, while Sénéchal out-sprinted a three-man group for the final podium step.