National Road Championships: the Netherlands & Czech Republic

Etixx - Quick-Step riders participated in eight different National Road Championships on Sunday, with half of those races ending in a victory or a silver medal.

Dutch championship

Niki Terpstra won the 253km Dutch Road Championship out of a sprint, as the peloton caught the lead group in the final kilometers even though the breakaway riders had a gap of at least 16 minutes at one point in the race. Terpstra, despite coming through the final corner in about 2nd position, passed Ramon Sinkeldam in the final meters to win his third National Road Championship of his career. Danny Van Poppel was 3rd.

"I am happy because this is the third national title on the road in my career, but probably the most difficult of the three," Terpstra said. "The race was really crazy. There was a breakway group with about eight riders that took more than 16 minutes of an advantage. No one wanted to work to close the gap. In the last laps we worked hard to bring these guys back. In the last lap I thought maybe I could be there and do the final. We caught the breakaway at about 6 or 7 kilometers to go and I knew in the last two or three kilometers there were a lot of corners where I could try to do something. It was also slippery due to the rain. So, I went at a certain moment and fortunately I took advantage of our tyres that are super good in wet conditions. Then I came into the final sprint with the other guys, but when I looked around me it was only sprinters. So, I was thinking I will end up with another 2nd place, but I gave everything and in the end I passed Sinkeldam and I won. After a few podium places during the Classics winning is important. This is also a special, as any time you can be a champion in your country, it is beautiful. I am really waiting for my Vermarc box to arrive with my Dutch outfit, so I can have a look and enjoy the moment when I will wear the jersey for the first time."

Czech championship

Petr Vakoc also won the Czech Republic Road Championship on Sunday, which means the Czech Champion colors stay in the team for a second consecutive season. Zdenek Stybar won the Czech road title in 2014. Leopold Konig was 2nd in the 2015 edition behind Vakoc, and Jiri Polnicky was 3rd.

"It's amazing," Vakoc said of his victory. "It's the first time I became national champion on the road in all my life, so it's a really great feeling. I knew I had a chance to win today, but it was a really hard race until the last meters. The race really started at 40 kilometers to go more or less, with the big guys like Peter Sagan, Jan Barta, Roman Kreuziger, and Konig starting to accelerate. There were a lot of attacks. At 20km to go I took my own chance to attack. I went and was joined by Sagan, and also Konig arrived. In the last cimb Sagan attacked, and I followed, and we dropped Konig. I was pushing to keep him away to try and win this title. In the finale we came together again, all 3 of us. Sagan went and he won the Slovak title. Konig and I started playing a bit for the Czech title. I attacked at 500 meters to go just before the top of the climb. I gave everything and took a small gap. When I looked behind me I saw that I was alone and I could finally celebrate my victory. But it wasn't easy. It was raining the entire day and the competition was really hard in the final. But I am happy, I showed in Baku I had good condition, and this win is basically icing on the cake. I really can't wait to ride with this jersey. I was often 2nd and 3rd in these championships in the past, but a national championship is another level. I want to celebrate this big achievement now with my family."

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