USA Cyclocross Champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) attacked early and held on to small gap to win her 17th Cyclocross World Cup of her illustrious earlier today in Tabor, Czech Republic. Proving that his victory in last week’s World Cup in Cauberg, Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) took the victory in the elite men’s race.
“It sounds unbelievable, I don’t know what to say.” van der Haar said. “I thought that Sunday was the best day in my life and today I was just feeling really good.”
Both Compton and van der Haar lead the World Cup after two events. “I want to win the overall again.” 2013 World Cup overall winner Compton said. “I want to have a strong World Championships too. I definitely like being consistent and being on the podium a lot so I just want to try to win as many races or get on the podium as I can.”
One challenge for all was the unexpectedly warm temperatures which forced many into the pit to take some water.
Pre-race favorite Compton attacked early to take advantage of the course that reminded her of American races. “The courses are similar, the terrain is similar. It was hard today and it was really hot too so I definitely struggled out there. I attacked a little early and I was able to maintain it but I was definitely feeling it.”
Behind her, Young Telenet Idea teammates British Champion Nikki Harris and Czech Champion Pavla Havlikova, the local favorite, worked together to try and reel Compton in but they never closed the gap completely.
Compton used the course to her advantage. “I think the downhill I was getting a little bit of time in each lap, I was definitely just trying to keep the pressure on on the uphills. They were staying right there so I had just enough gap to stay on the pedals the whole time and not let up. It was hard.”
A mechanical towards the end of the course nearly broke Compton’s hopes. Havlikova and Harris came very close to catching the runaway leader but were finally forced to concede defeat. On the line, Harris was second and Havlikova third for the first World Cup podium in her career.
American women had a great race in Tabor. Starting from the second row, Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) moved up to the field to ninth place halfway through the race. Not done, Miller battled with riders in the third group to ultimately take sixth place. USA Under23 National Champion Kaitie Antonneau (cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com) finished ninth and Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty20) was 15th.
If some doubted Lars Van der Haar’s ability to take the reins and keep them in top flight, they were proved wrong on Saturday. The former two times U23 world champion attacked early once again with only one rider, Germany’s Philipp Walsleben (BKCP – Powerplus) staying on his wheel with seven laps to go. Then, one lap later van der Haar went down on a corner that had caused mishaps for many other riders while Walsleben continued solo. But van der Haar dug deep and the pair was back together until the finale.
“I had a problem with my derailleur, the cable was loose. I looked at it and I forgot to turn so I crashed, it was eight seconds to close and I thought oh no but I came back and it was just together until the sprint.”
Though Walsleben led through the final lap, closing the door on van der Haar who tried to pass, the two came together on the final dash to the line, in full sprint.
Ban der Haar continued, “I knew that Philipp was really, really good, and I knew if I kept the gas fully opened I had a chance of coming back because he was tired as well. I had no other option, I had try.”
Last year’s winner Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb – Napoleon Games), who also went down on the same tricky corner, was the best of the rest and finished third. USA champion Jonathan Page (Fuji-Spy-Competitive Cyslist) placed 31st.
Third a week ago in Valkenburg for his debut in the espoir field, Mathieu Van der Poel of the Netherlands wasted no time in winning his first race in the under-23 category. The son of 1996 world champion Adrie beat the Belgian pair of Gianni Vermeersch and Wout Van Aert by three and 17 seconds respectively.
For the Americans, Logan Owen (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) finished 21st, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com), 31st and Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) was 36th.
Only 20th a week ago in Valkenburg, Czech Adam Toupalik made the best of the home advantage to take the win in Tabor. The Czech champion, third in the Worlds in Louisville last season, won with a 10-second lead over Belgian Eli Iserbyt and 15 seconds over Dutchman Joris Nieuwenhuis. Winner in the Netherlands a week ago, France’s Lucas Dubau finished 8th, 32 seconds off the pace. American Maxx Chance finished 36th.
After two World Cup events, Compton has a 15-point lead on Harris and 35 points on Havlikova. With Koksijde a month away, van der Haar has a 25-point lead on Walsleben and Pauwels who are tied. Only 18 years old, van der Poel is the first rider since Niels Albert in 2004 to win an under-23 World Cup race in his first season. Van der Poel did even better than the Belgian legend by snatching the overall leader’s jersey. Winner in the junior ranks last season, he was quick to claim back a top spot with a six-point edge on van Aert. Fourth in Valkenburg and second in Tabor, Iserbyt will hold the World Cup leader’s jersey in the junior category.
Next leg of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup is on November 23 in Koksijde (Belgium).