Niki Terpstra won Dwars door Vlaanderen Wednesday in Waregem, Belgium. Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) attacked over the Paterberg with 30 kilometers to go to take victory in the 201km cobbles opener.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished second and Borut Bozic (Astana) was third.
“Of course this race is on the Flemish roads with the small hills, the pave, and a lot of wind,” said Terpstra. “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.”
The day’s long breakaway saw more than 20 riders escape the peloton: Jos Van Emden (Belkin), Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale), Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana), Stephen Cummings (BMC Racing), Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Belisol), Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura), Christopher Sutton (Sky), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), Kenneth Van Bilsen and Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Markel Irizar and Eugenio Alafaci (Trek Factory Racing), John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare), and James Van Landschoot (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). The move lasted until the final 60km.
A series of reshuffles saw two groups escape with roughly 50km to go, but Lotto-Belisol was not represented in the resulting move, and worked hard to bring the leaders back. The gap at the bottom of 380-meter, 13.7-percent Paterberg was less than 10 seconds.
The race came back together on the cobbled climb under pressure from multiple attacks out of the bunch and one man emerged at the head of the race: Terpstra. Just as he did in 2012, the Dutchman rode away on his own on the climb that will play a major role in the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 11 days.
He held a dozen seconds after the climb and was fully committed, but the peloton was organized tightly behind.
“I thought, ‘Now just go full speed, and then we’ll see where we get,’” said Terpstra. “I had already done this in 2012, but then I had a tailwind. The wind was enormously painful, but I knew I was covered by the team.”
Trek Factory Racing led the chase, but when the gap went above 30 seconds, Orica send a man to the front to share the load.
Stijn Devolder (Trek) set out in pursuit with 19km to go, and was soon joined by three other riders. Nicki Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) were there, and Terpstra’s teammate Gert Steegmans was along for a free ride.
“I held off on my own Devolder, Søorensen, and Valverde, true, but they always had doubt because Gert was in their wheel,” said Terpstra.
With 8km to go, the foursome was 18 seconds behind Terpstra. Former Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) attacked from the peloton, but Omega Pharma’s Tom Boonen marked him, and the duo quickly gave up.
The chase group was finished with 3km to go, but Terpstra pushed on alone, crossing the line with arms raised as the peloton turned onto the finish straight.
Farrar took the field sprint, pumping his right fist after crossing the line.
“My heart is broken,” said Farrar. “This is the second time after 2011 that I won the group sprint in Waregem, just after the winner. I just wanted to win.”