What's Cool In Road Cycling

Niki Terpstra Gets PEZ’d

Rider Interview: Niki Terpstra is a man of many facets: twice World champion in the team time trial, Dutch track and road National champion and then throw in winning the Tour of Qatar and Paris–Roubaix and you get the idea. We caught up with him the day after he won the Rotterdam 6 day.

The Etixx – Quick-Step team media day was the morning after Niki Terpstra won the Rotterdam ‘6 day’ with teammate Iljo Keisse and Niki did look a little tired, but with coffee in hand and dark glasses for the bright sun light he was ready to be quizzed by a handful of journalists.

PEZ: How does track racing fit in with riding the road?
For me it’s a good thing to be busy in the winter, in the end it’s good training, I have two tracks near my house and always they have the heating on, so when it’s raining or there is snow I can train on the track. It’s good for the speed and it’s nice to have a small goal in January. Now I’ve done the race I have race speed in my legs and when we start next month in Qatar I will already have that feeling a little bit. I hope to keep the feeling for about three month of course.

Six Days of Rotterdam 2015 day - 4Terpstra/Keisse, winners in Rotterdam

PEZ: What is it about this team that made you extend your contract for three more years?
The co-operation with everybody, with the riders, with the staff and the team directors, we have the same vision. We speak a lot with each other about the small things and about tactics and material [equipment], training camps and stuff like this. We can always discuss things and of course Etixx – Quick-Step always like to ride offensively and I like to ride offensively, so it suits me really well and it’s a top team and so I’m really happy to be here for the next up and coming three years.

PEZ: Has your status changed in the team since you won Paris-Roubaix?
I don’t think it’s different from last year. Of course they trust me or other wise they wouldn’t want to keep me for another three years and I’m happy with that, but I don’t think it will change a lot. The strength of our team is that we have a lot of good riders coming to the final of a race, not just one captain, but more riders who can finish the job and that is the strength of our team.

rbx14_terpstra-620Roubaix; “it’s the best Classic”

PEZ: Which other teams do you think will be strong in the 2015 Classics?
Well, Saxo of course are getting really strong, but there are more teams getting stronger, especially in the Flemish Classics. All the teams are catching up actually, every year is another year and there are new opportunities for all the teams and there will be hard battles again.

PEZ: What are you main goals for the season?
Of course the main objective is the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but the races before are also very important for me and that starts with Qatar. From Qatar on it’s one line until Paris-Roubaix.

Dukhan Beach - Qatar - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclismOverall winner in Qatar

PEZ: What about after April?
Then we will see. Now the focus is until then and then we will see what the rest of the season will be.

PEZ: It sounds like the Dutch National coach is behind you for the World championships.
I think the parcours of the Worlds suits me well and of course that’s the opinion of the coach also, but now I do it step by step and for now I focus on to the end of April and then I’m going to focus on the next step.

PEZ: What is the atmosphere like in the team as you are getting into March?
Ah yeah it’s getting nervous, but it’s a good nervous actually. There is tension in the team as the selections of the teams are being announced; everybody is getting in good race shape.

AchtvanChaam-620Acht van Chaam action

PEZ: How do you sleep the night before a big race?
Oh I sleep well, that’s not a problem. You feel there is some tension, but we do a lot of good races in March and April and we always want to do well so there is big pressure, but I like that pressure.

PEZ: Is there competition in the team to get a place and for leadership roles?
Of course you have to show you are in good shape, but the riders know their place in the team and their job. We don’t even discus it, we like to work with each other and that’s a good chemistry and if you see the main selection that does the Classics it has been there for four years. Maybe there are some slight changes, but it’s a tight group.

rbx14_terpstra_break-620Terpsta making his move on the road to Roubaix ’14

PEZ: In the cobbled Classics, how much is decided on the road and how much is decided in the team car?
It’s only in the ProTour races that we have the radios, then the decisions can be made in the car, but in all the other races it has to be decided on the road. If you have a race without the radio, then the team meeting before the race is very important as everyone has to know the strategy, you cannot easily change it in the race. If you have no radios then it has to be clear, but in the end the decisions are made on the road.

PEZ: Is it easier for you to make those crazy Terpstra moves when you don’t have a radio?
Good question. Well… if you have radio communication then you have contact every 10 or 5 minutes, so there’s always a plan. But if you have no radio communication then the plan is already four or five hours old, so you can adjust easily, you have to think yourself, but sometimes moves come in the split of a second and then you don’t need radio, you need yourself, your mind, good legs and inspiration to go.

omloop14_cobbles-620Quick-Step control the cobbles

PEZ: You said you were in favor of six-man teams, does that also go for the races like Paris-Roubaix?
I said it was interesting to see how that would go; I think we need more tests for this. We are a big team and we like to control a lot of races because we have some good captains that can finish the job, we like to ride offensively, but sometimes we like to control. So for us, big teams are tactically better of course. But for cycling in general it could be interesting.

PEZ: Do you think Peter Sagan will be more dangerous in the Classics now he is with Tinkoff-Saxo?
If you have a strong team around you, you are stronger. If the guy’s can help him it will be better for him of course.

e3harelbeke14_break-620Sagan has his eye on Terpstra in the E3 Harelbeke ’14: Sagan was 1st, Terpstra 2nd

PEZ: What was the reaction back in Holland to your win in Roubaix? You were nominated for rider of the year also.
Yeah, the reactions after the race were great. A lot of comments in the papers, that was nice to read. But by the end of the season it was old news and was a bit different, but that’s how it is with elections for riders and sports awards.

PEZ: What does the Roubaix win mean to you?
For me it’s the best Classic, for sure. Of course it’s the highest win, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have other goals.

etixx15-terpstra-cafe-620Coffee for the morning after

PEZ: Do you have more motivation going back as defending champion?
You know if you are the No. 1 in an event and you come back the next year, if you don’t win, then it feels like losing. So of course I’m extremely motivated to race well there again. But in the end I might not be able to focus on myself to win, but for the team to win because other wise it might screw up our strength.

PEZ: Is it easier to have many leaders in a team than the teams of Cancellara and Sagan with only one leader?
I really like this system, especially with Tom [Boonen]; he always has your back actually. You know he’s there, he can finish the job and together I feel really strong with him and confident and that’s the thing I prefer to being the only guy. If everyone is in good shape we have a really good team: Trentin can win the races, Stybar can win the races, Vandenbergh can win the races.

PEZ; But if you don’t win it’s a disaster, at least in Belgium.
It is, it is, I know.

omloop14_terpstra_face-6205th in the 2014 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad wasn’t too bad

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