After winning the World Cup overall and the European Cyclocross Championships, Dutch Lars van der Haar can now add the rainbow jersey to his collection. Van der Haar outsprinted his countryman Mike Teunissen and Czech rider Karel Hnik for the win.
“I knew when I was going first on the track on the last 200 meters, I know I can win because I am a fast sprinter, if I went on the front there I could win but it was really hard because I already went full gas from the last 700 meters, the last 75 meters I was really really tired and I thought ‘go go go, make it the finish line’ and it happened.” 19-year old van der Haar said.
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What a difference a few hours made to the course. With temperatures inching up a bit and the sun high in the sky, the mud started to melt creating a completely different course. After the carnage in the junior’s race in the morning, the fences were moved for the off-camber section after the barriers making it easier to stay on the bike.
While a few crashes did happen on the first lap, it was nothing like the junior’s race and the field stayed mostly together. After two laps, a group of ten riders with all the favorites was off the front but they were caught by a chase group one lap later as the speeds decreased. Another attack and the lead group was once again down to ten riders and the games were on but the group stayed together until the final lap.
On the final lap, Teunissen made his move and quickly got a few meters. A 4-rider chase group was on his tail led by his teammate Tijmen Eising and van der Haar on his wheel. Van der Haar counter-attacked when the catch was made and gave it everything to take the win.
US U23 National Champion Danny Summerhill was battling in the front group when bad luck hit, a flat tire just as he was passing the pit which dropped him to 27th after 3 laps. He chased back to finish 13th. Zach McDonald placed 23rd, Cody Kaiser 36th and Jerome Townsend 39th.
Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands). “My start was I think average, I lost my pedal in the first pedal [stroke] but I recovered really fast. I think I went in like fifth into the field so I was really happy with that because it was a hard start, there were a lot of difficult bits in the course and I knew if you were too far behind it would be very hard to get back because of the crashes and the slippery course.”
When did you know you had won? ” think when we passed Mike Teunissen and we went to the head, I knew Mike was between me and the rest of the group. I knew when I was going first on the track on the last 200 meters, I know I can win because I am a fast sprinter, if I went on the front there I could win but it was really hard because I already went full gas from the last 700 meters, the last 75 meters I was really really tired and I thought ‘go go go, make it the finish line’ and it happened.”
Was it really difficult to be good the whole season? “Every year I show that I’m good for the whole year, normally I’m getting better and better in the season, so that’s something I show every year. This year I made a really big progression and then I showed that I keep that same level for the whole year, I think that’s a real advantage against the others because I know all the riders at the front because I raced against Boulot, against Aernouts, against Baestaens, against Bosmans so all the guys that were riding at the front, I know what they can do so I think that’s a really big advantage for the world championships. Every time someone went at the front I knew who it was, what he’s able to do, maybe that helped me to the victory.”
Did you expect the field to remain as large as it did? “Yes I expected from the start because I knew when I saw the track, maybe on the first climb you can make a difference but on the second climb you’re very tight so everything comes back so I knew for the seven guys that were there I expected and it came true. But that’s a really hard race because all the time you come to the finish line, they will come from back to front and you have to stay alert to go to the front every time and that costs also a lot of energy to stay at the top.”
Second year as a U23. What now? “Ride some more races and win some more and get better. I know I can make more progression, not as much as this year of course, but I know there are still some things to get better in. I think I need a bit more power for races like this so we’ll see what happens next year, it will be very hard but it will be very good.”
Mike Teunissen (Netherlands). “At this moment I think I am a bit disappointed because I could make it to the finish line but on the last climb, I was already was totally exhausted. Lars came to me and then I had to sprint for a podium, I knew Lars was too fast and when I saw Karl, I had to sprint for the silver medal and luckily I held it for the second place.”
About Eising. “I have to hear the story from Timjen, I think he also ride for the victory. I really don’t know, I don’t really care, I’m already happy with my second place. I have to hear his story then I have to have a conclusion about it.”
Karel Hnik (Czech Republic). “The start was really difficult because I started around 15th place, and it went better and better. Before the last lap, I had a little bit of flat, flat tires and thought, before the last downhill, I must be in good position for the sprint. I am very very happy with this place. ”
Top 10 Results
1. Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands) 0:52:11
2. Mike Teunissen (Netherlands) 0:00:01
3. Karel Hnik (Czech Republic)
4. Matthieu Boulo (France) 0:00:03
5. Tijmen Eising (Netherlands) 0:00:04
6. Wietse Bosmans (Belgium) 0:00:07
7. Valentin Scherz (Switzerland) 0:00:13
8. Joeri Adams (Belgium) 0:00:24
9. Jimmy Turgis (France)
10. Vincent Baestaens (Belgium) 0:00:30
13. Daniel Summerhill (USA) 0:00:42
23. Zach Mcdonald (USA) 0:02:21
36. Cody Kaiser (USA) 0:05:05
39. Jerome Townsend (USA) 0:05:46