Tour de France Stage 8: Terpstra Top 15 After Mountain Stage Breakaway
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Niki Terpstra fought through the first mountain stage of the Tour de France, which also featured pouring rain, to finish 14th on Saturday.
Terpstra and four riders entered the breakaway just 35 kilometers into the 161km stage, but Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale) went on to win solo after catching an attacking Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), and eventually dropping him with about 22km left in the stage.
Terpstra stayed ahead of the peloton through some difficult final kilometers, including back-to-back Category 2 climbs. He was caught with about a kilometer to go on the Category 3 summit finish by an attacking Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in the yellow jersey.
Contador finished 2nd, and Nibali 3rd.
Michal Kwiatkowski, in the white jersey, had good support by his teammates. He was in difficulty and lost contact inside 15km to go in the stage. However, he fought to minimize the time loss and finished 27th in the stage. He remains 4th in the GC.
OPQS looks next to 170km Stage 9. The stage features six categorized climbs in the earlier portion of the stage. However, the race descends into a flat finish.
"It was a really fast start as it was flat," Terpstra said. "The attack wasn't planned. We planned to have someone in the front, but not necessarily me as there were mountains in the final. But, when the pace is so fast you cannot choose who makes it. That's racing. I just came to the front with Chavanel. It was like deja vu of the TTT, together we became two-time UCI World Champions when he was with OPQS. We just repeated that effort together. We went full gas and then we heard there were two or three chasers in the peloton. So we waited for the other guys. But the cooperation was not so good in the breakaway. Even though the peloton was practically standing still, we only gained 10 minutes. We could have gained more I think if we had worked together a little more. But OK, then the mountains started and Chavanel attacked directly with Kadri following. I couldn't go with them. But I went full gas until the finish and I stayed away as long as I could. Chavanel was with me going into the final. I tried to attack him, but then the select group with Contador and Nibali passed me. Then, it was over. But I did my best and I have to be happy considering I'm not a climber, and I am still 14th after a long day."
"Before we hit the first climb it was actually an easy stage," Kwiatkowski said. "Twenty kilometers before the first climb, the heavy rain starts. The peloton started to get nervous. We had Niki in the breakaway, but also the guys did a great job putting me at the front of the peloton before we hit the first climb. Tinkoff-Saxo kept a really high tempo on the first climb. For me, the pace was a bit too high. I didn't feel very good from the bottom to the top of that climb. But I survived it because of Tony Martin and Jan Bakelants. They stayed with me to try and chase back to the group. We almost did it, I started to feel better on the second to last climb and the last climb. That's the grand tours. You have to survive your bad moments and keep in control, and keep going. I'm happy I got through this bad moment and I didn't lose too much time. I'm also happy to keep my white jersey. I have to say thank you to the guys for taking care of me today."