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"Qatar is completely flat and windy. Here we had to struggle on the Ardennes climbs. Really it was a different kind of race. So I am really happy I made it at a parcours that, on paper, doesn't typically suit a rider like me."

Photo: Etixx - Quick-Step/Tim De Waele






29.07.2015 @ 19:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx - Quick-Step maintained their defense of the yellow jersey for the 5th and final stage of Tour de Wallonie on Wednesday, which sealed the overall victory for Niki Terpstra after he initially took the race lead with a Stage 1 victory out of a two-rider breakaway.


The whole team worked on the front for the Dutch Road Champion in the 167.3km 5th Stage from Chimay to Thuin. They kept him near the front, bringing back a breakaway with 2.7km to go, and controlled the race with a high tempo going into the final ascent of Mur de Thuin so that any gaps would not be enough to threaten the race lead.


Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) went over the top of an attacking Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo) on the uphill to the finish, and went on to win solo with a 3" gap over the field. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) was 2nd, and Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished 3rd. Pieter Serry of Etixx - Quick-Step finished 4th, and Terpstra 6th.


The overall victory of Terpstra was far from easy, particularly with a challenging final parcours. The 5th Stage was a flat start, but with plenty of up-and-down in the final kilometers. There was a three-lap, 12km circuit, and it heavily featured Mur de Thuin. Mur de Thuin was climbed four times, including a final time going into an uphill finale.


Terpstra's overall victory is the 39th on the road for Etixx - Quick-Step in 2015, and his 6th victory of the season.


"I'm very happy about this victory because from the day I first put on the yellow jersey until today it wasn't easy," Terpstra said. "There was a final circuit with a cobbled climb in the middle. This made for some hard racing.


"But I could count on my teammates today, as I could the entire race. They gave me a big hand, really controlling the entire day. My victory is also a result of their job. Of course, my victory the first day was key. I finished with a gap and was able to defend it for four more stages.


"I am very happy to reward the work of the whole team by winning the overall. My teammates worked hard during the entire race. They always protected me from the wind and every time they positioned me ideally at the bottom of the climbs. I thank them.


"I must say that I expected a difficult day today. The other teams would not let us get the yellow jersey like that. So we could expect a difficult stage but finally we managed it perfectly. And I repeat: with a very strong team. Furhtermore, the Tour de Wallonie remains in the hands of my Etixx QuickStep team after the success of Gianni Meersman last year. The management must be very satisfied. 


"Next goal will be the Eneco Tour, the great Belgian-Dutch race. This is also important because it is a WorldTour race. In this context, the Tour de Wallonie was the ideal preparation for any kind of conditions.

"I am happy and proud about this victory, as it's only the third stage race that I won in my career, after Tour of Qatar this year, and also last season. I'm proud of this, because I won in a completely different parcours compared to Qatar. Qatar is completely flat and windy. Here we had to struggle on the Ardennes climbs. Really it was a different kind of race. So I am really happy I made it at a parcours that, on paper, doesn't typically suit a rider like me.


"This victory gives me the motivation to continue to perform well in 2015, and be ready at the next race, which for me will be the Eneco Tour."



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