After eight fruitful years with Quick-Step Floors, Niki Terpstra shocked the world of pro cycling Thursday by confirming a move to French team Direct Energie for 2019.
“I was impressed by Direct Energie this season during the Flanders Classics where the riders of the team were systematically involved in the race,” said Terpstra. “Damien Gaudin, Sylvain Chavanel, and Adrien Petit were among the great animators of the Belgian countryside. I also noticed their aggressive style in the Tour de France. I like it!”
The reigning Tour of Flanders champion was a mainstay on the Belgian Quick-Step team since 2011. The 34-year-old Dutchman also won Paris-Roubaix in 2014, along with 16 other major victories in his tenure with the classics powerhouse team.
Direct Energie seems an unusual home for the three-time Dutch champion because the French team is almost entirely comprised of French riders. Also, it is a Pro Continental team, meaning it isn’t guaranteed invitations to the entire WorldTour calendar.
However, Quick-Step Floors is still seeking a title sponsor for 2019.
“Quick-Step will stay for at least another three years, but they would prefer to become a second sponsor,” team director Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad, “I do not have that main sponsor yet.”
Direct Energie director Jean-René Bernaudeau said he was careful in choosing a rider beyond French borders.
“I am happy to see that he shares our values and wishes to be part of our project,” Bernaudeau said. “We are very vigilant when we recruit riders who do not come from the Vendée region. With Niki, I am sure we made the right choice.”
Terpstra also says the team is the right fit for him.
“I dream to bring Direct Energie a prestigious victory in a major classic,” he added. “And above all, to win a stage victory on the Tour de France — I am turning over a new leaf by joining a French team.”
So far this year, Direct Energie’s best results came at Paris Nice, where Jonathan Hivert won stage 3 and Jerome Cousin won stage 5. Outside of WorldTour races, the team counts 12 additional victories to date in 2018.