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April 13, 2014 – Niki Terpstra’s main rivals all complained they had been lacking in good fortune after seeing the 29-year-old Dutchman come home alone to win the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic on Sunday. The Dutchman made his move from an 11-strong group with just over 6km remaining of the ‘Hell of the North’ as his main rivals, Omega Pharma teammate Tom Boonen, Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara, Belgian Sep Vanmarcke and Slovak Peter Sagan all watched each other.
“I’m obviously delighted for Niki but when you put in all that effort, it’s to win for yourself,” said Boonen, who ended up 10th. The Belgian, a four-time winner of the ‘Queen of the Classics’, made the first major attack of the challengers around 65km from home but it failed to materialize into the winning move as his escape companions mostly refused to
work with him.
“I’m angry with the other riders who were with me and refused to help but stopped me from getting away (alone). That annoyed me. I didn’t understand this lack of co-operation. I had a lot of bad luck. I punctured at a bad time and then my water bottle holder broke. And then, most of all, in the last 30km my gears weren’t working. It was difficult to ride under these conditions.”
Pre-race favorite Cancellara, the reigning champion who had demonstrated his form in winning the Tour of Flanders a week ago, also bemoaned his bad luck. “The wind conditioned the way the race went. In the run-in I thought about breaking away but there was a headwind and the others were waiting for me to attack,” he said after finishing third.
“During the race I had to change my bike. (New Zealander Trek teammate Hayden) Roulston’s crash forced me to use up energy to get back up to the peloton quickly because there was a great battle. With Vanmarcke we tried to weed out the chaff on the cobblestones but in the end Omega’s tactics paid off.”
Vanmarcke, who finished fourth a week after his third placed finish at the Tour of Flanders, said Terpstra’s attack had scuppered his own chances. “I had the legs to win, once again this Sunday I was amongst the best, just like at the Tour of Flanders,” said the Belkin rider. “But Terpstra’s attack stopped there being a sprint finish. The way the final few kilometers went didn’t play into my hands.”
Sagan, who finished sixth, complained about mechanical troubles. “It was a very hard day. I had to change bikes three times and every time I had to chase to get back on,” he said. “I tried to attack before the Carrefour de l’Arbre (17km from home) to ride at my rhythm. But at the end I was suffering from cramp and couldn’t nail my sprint.”