This year at the the Six-days of Amsterdam, Affinity had the opportunity to hang out and get the insiders view of what goes down track side. Documenting the action from the track and in the pits was quite the spectacle. We got to meet the organizers, the mechanics and many of the racers.
One racer in particular was none other the legendary Niki Terpstra. If you don't know him you should. Earlier this year Niki won the "hell of the north" aka the "queen of the classics" Paris Roubaix... and he did so in solo fashion.
Niki and Yeori Havek went on to win the Amsterdam Six-days and we had the opportunity to interview Niki on the final day of the six's.
AFFINITY: How did you get into cycling?
Niki: When I was a child I loved to ride my bike and ride it fast, I saw cycling on television and I said to my dad that I wanted to race.
AFFINITY: How did you get into track racing?
Niki: Some of my friends were doing it in my cycling club, so I wanted to do it. I lived right by to the track so it was close by and accessible for me.
AFFINITY: Which do you prefer, road or track?
Niki: I prefer road racing but track racing is a nice thing to do along side to road racing … it's speed, it's fun and really cool for the crowd.
AFFINITY: How do you deal with success, and what is your inspiration?
Niki: I've always loved cycling … but success comes step by step. You take a victory and build upon that victory and aim to get better and better.
AFFINITY: What has changed in your racing career since Paris Roubaix?
Niki: Not so much actually, I'm still the same … I do the same races, I ride for the same team and everything has remained the same. The big change will come next year, they’ll be a lot more pressure for me for the classics.
AFFINITY: Tell me about Paris Roubaix, What was the game plan and how did it evolve?
Niki: Of course we wanted to take a win with our team, because they (Omega Pharma Quick Step) are specialists in the classics. We had a strong team the week before at Tour de Flanders but things got screwed up and the race didn't go our way so it was important to take revenge.
AFFINITY: What was the point when you knew you were about to win Paris Roubaix?
Niki: It was hard to tell because I didn’t have such a big gap. It wasn’t until the velodrome when I saw that I had enough meters in front. That was the moment I knew yes I was going to win … but it wasn't until the last corner. I was going full gas until the finish line, you can't hesitate ... ever.
AFFINITY: (jJokingly) The commentators always say that when you’re about to win a huge race, in that massive moment you don't feel the last kilometer and the pain just goes away ... is that true or false?
Niki: (Laughing) That's not true, it hurts until the very end but after you cross the finish line it all goes away … the feeling is indescribable.
AFFINITY: You obviously loves the Six's and especially the Amsterdam Six's ... Why is Six-day racing so important to you?
Niki: I love the crowd. The crowds are so close to the race and they can really feel the race and the tension of the race. It's different than road racing. With road racing you only see what the camera man chooses to let you see … at the Six’s the crowds are right next to you. Every action, every move you make, you feel, and you hear the reaction of the crowd and it makes the experience really intense.
AFFINITY: Congratulations on winning Paris Roubaix and also the Amsterdam Six’s, best of luck in 2015!