Niki Terpstra has left pro cycling team Quick Step Floors for Direct Energie. The announcement was made in August and has given me time to reflect on the career of one of my favourite cyclists.
I’m not exactly sure why it is that Terpstra is one of my favourite professional cyclsists. As a cycling fan, which riders you support and identify with is subject to a strange and unfathomable thought process. I’m not sure it’s something that’s possible to explain!
The announcement was made just before Quick Step revealed their new title sponsor and name change to Deceuninck–Quick-Step (how do you pronounce that? – it’ll be fun next season listening to commentators attempt it!). Would he have stayed if he’d have known there was a new sponsor to bolster the funding cash pool? He, like all the riders at Quick Step, was concerned for his future and jumped ship before the announcement was made after riding with them since 2011, the bulk of his pro career.
Quick Step had the most successful season last year of any pro cycling team in living memory – probably since HTC Highroad in their day, but HTC relied on many of their wins from Mark Cavendish. What was unique about Quick Step’s 2018 season was how their wins were spread throughout the team. Classics, sprints and time trials, team time trials, Grand Tour stages and even a Grand Tour podium with the somewhat suprising success in the Vuelta with Enric Mas.
In all this success for Quick Step, none of the wins was quite so exciting for me as seeing Nikki Terpstra ride everyone off his wheel in a stunning victory at the Tour of Flanders.
Nikki, I wish you all the best at Direct Energie, but I’m concerned that it’s not going to be the best decision you ever made. Hopefully I’m wrong and you’ll have a stellar season that gives you sole leadership in the races that you target with very many more beautiful victories.