Quick-Step Floors’ amazing streak in Belgium continued on Friday afternoon, when Niki Terpstra soloed to victory in the E3 Harelbeke.
The first key moment of the race surfaced with 100 kilometers to go, when a big crash in the peloton split the field, leaving 30 riders in the front, including the entire Quick-Step Floors squad.
On the iconic Taaienberg, Quick-Step Floors put the race in the gutter and forced a massive selection. Just before the top of the climb, Yves Lampaert and Niki Terpstra powered clear from the group.
Lampaert buried himself for Terpstra at the front and took the gap to almost a minute, as behind Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar marked the moves of Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
It was after the Oude Kwaremont that a regrouping took place, when a large group caught the chasers, but the Quick-Step Floors duo remained cool as a cucumber and continued to fight hard, until with 23 kilometers to go, when the admirable Lampaert ran out of steam, just before the slopes of Tiegemberg.
Terpstra still held 30 seconds over the top of the hill as he made use of his time trial skills to pace himself, but the advantage began to drop inside the last ten kilometers, on the long straight roads to Harelbeke, where the chasers made visual contact with him.
Terpstra arrived at the finish, where he celebrated Quick-Step Floors’ 33rd victory in a cobbled classic. Philippe Gilbert made it a spectacular 1-2 for the Belgian team, as he easily sprinted from the ten-man group.
“This is one of the biggest wins of my career and the fact that it came in such an important race gives me even more pleasure. It wouldn’t have been possible without this awesome team, the way they all rode today – from Tim and Iljo who spent a ridiculous amount of energy at the front of the bunch and Philippe, Florian and Zdenek who reeled in every move to Yves’ fantastic effort – this was a perfect display of the Wolfpack spirit”, said Terpstra.
“I was disappointed after last year, when I came out of the season winless, but the hard work in the winter paid off today and now I’m very happy. The success in Le Samyn gave me a lot of confidence and showed me I’m on the right track. Many thought we were crazy to attack 74 kilometers out, but we knew we could make something special today. The toughest moment came on the highway, inside the last ten kilometers, but I didn’t crack and rode my heart out there, managing to finish off the team’s brilliant effort with this win.”
E3 Harelbeke 2018 results:
|1||Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors)|
|2||Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)|
|3||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)|
|4||Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|5||Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)|
|6||Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)|
|7||Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac)|
|8||Gianni Moscon (Team Sky)|
|9||Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors)|
|10||Stefan Küng (BMC)|
|11||Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|12||Jurgen Roelandts (BMC)|
|13||Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)|
|14||Michael Valgren (Astana)|
|15||Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)|
|16||Florian Senechal (Quick-Step Floors)|
|17||Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors)|
|18||Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|19||Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-Merida)|
|20||Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC)|