Dutch cyclist Niki Terpstra on Sunday won the prestigious Paris-Roubaix one-day race, upstaging favorites Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara with a 20-second lead as he passed the finish line on the Roubaix velodrome.
It was Terptra’s first win in the 257-kilometre classic, which is known as the “hell of the north” because of its grueling route, including about a 50-kilometre stretch of cobblestone.
Belgian rider Boonen was looking to win the race for a record fifth time, while Swiss star Cancellara, who finished in third place, for a fourth time.
Terpstra outwitted his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Boonen after pulling ahead with about six kilometres remaining.
“Maybe not (the best day) in my life, but for sure my career,” said Terpstra, who won in a little more than six hours. “I did the attack and I was in front but I didn’t know (by) how many seconds. I was just pushing until the end.”
German rider John Degenkolb finished second after beating Cancellara in a sprint to the line. Belgian rider Sep Vanmarcke was fourth and Czech cyclist Zdenek Stybar – Terpstra’s teammate – was fifth.
Attacking on the last stretch
Boonen attacked strongly from the front as a group of eight riders, including Peter Sagan, kept the pressure on the Tour of Flanders champion Cancellara, who was tucked in the chasing pack and lacking his usual pace after being involved in a crash.
The only other four-time winner is Belgian Roger de Vlaeminck, who won in 1972, ‘74, ‘75 and ‘77 and the 33-year-old Boonen will have to wait another year for a chance to break the record.
Sagan took the lead and, after passing the Carrefour de l’Arbre cobblestone section, he was a few seconds ahead of a group of six riders. But Boonen caught back up with about 10 kilometres to go and Terpstra was with him.
“Tom and I came back in the front but after the last cobble section, I attacked,” Terpstra said.
The 33-year-old Cancellara missed the chance to become the only rider to win Flanders and Roubaix back-to-back in consecutive years.
“It was really hard. The first thing was that the wind changed a lot of things. I was struggling a bit after my fall, had to change my bike and work hard to catch up,” he said. “That cost me a lot of energy.”
Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff of Norway had a puncture in the Trouee d’Arenberg, one of the most feared cobbled sectors.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2014-04-13