Lars van der Haar takes a home World Cup victory in the Caubergcross
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lars van der Haar takes a home World Cup victory in the Caubergcross

by Ben Atkins at 10:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Dutch champion triumphs from the front as technical problems dog the Belgians

lars van der haarLars van der Haar (Rabobank) took a popular home victory in the Caubergcross, the first race in the 2013/14 Cyclocross World Cup, on the Cauberg climb, in Valkenburg, in the southern Netherlands. The Netherlands champion powered away from the front of the field to take his biggest ever victory in the senior ranks, as many of those behind him struggled with the rutted surface, and with technical problems.

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), having unshipped his chain while away with van der Haar midrace, managed to recover enough to take second place just 20 seconds behind van der Haar, with an aggressive German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) taking third after 38 seconds.

The race was run mostly under bright sunshine, but persistent light rain showers made the relatively dry course a little slippery as the race went on.

Pauwels led away from the start, with Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) and van der Haar on his wheel as the whole pack began to string out behind them. Van der Haar briefly moved ahead at the top of the first run up, as the left handed Pauwels opted for the opposite side of the track to the others, but the Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider was soon back in control.

French champion Francis Mourey ( then nudged his way through to the front, leading the pack past the pits, as a group of a dozen or so riders began to ease clear of the rest. Surprisingly struggling to stay in contact with the leaders was 2012 World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

Mourey led across the line for the first time, with the pack bunching behind him but, following a brief stumble from Nys, the French champion briefly opened a gap with van der Haar on his wheel. Pauwels, Nys, Simon Zahner (EKZ), Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) and Walsleben were quickly up to the two leaders, but Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) led the group across the gap before it could get too wide.

After briefly leading, Nys slipped off and dropped back through the pack a little, seemingly experiencing a problem his left thigh, and van der Haar pushed on through the end of lap two. The Netherlands champion opened yet another gap over the others, as he hit the first run up, as Mourey tried to chase him down again.

Pauwels broke clear of the pack and tried to make it across to van der Haar, but the 22-year-old was five seconds clear as he passed the pits. Gradually Pauwels inched his way across, however, catching up midway around the lap and leading the Dutchman across the line to start lap four.

Walsleben was leading the chase behind, briefly breaking clear, but Pauwels was accelerating up ahead and making van der Haar work hard to stay with him. Aernouts, Vantornout, Walsleben and Mourey broke away from the rest of the group, but Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Nys, Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink) and Albert - who had recovered from his poor start - were looking to join on at the back after the run up.

Over the line with five laps to go, van der Haar and Pauwels were 23 seconds clear of the Walsleben-led pack. The German champion was splitting the group, with Nys struggling at the back.

Disaster then struck for Pauwels as his chain came off midway around the lap, just as van der Haar was pushing the pace. The Belgian managed to replace it before the chasers were upon him, but the Dutch champion was then alone and clear. Despite his apparent mechanical, Pauwels rode past the pits, but Walsleben was right on his heels.

The German champion then moved ahead of Pauwels and began to lead the chase of van der Haar. The gap to the young Dutchman was still 23 seconds as he crossed the line, however, with Vantornout a few more seconds behind.

Apparently recovered, Nys powered past Vantornout, however, as the group edged its way up towards Pauwels and Walsleben. Mourey then crashed in the chasing group, apparently breaking his rear derailleur, and the French champion was faced with a long run to the pits to get a replacement.

Van der Haar was widening his lead over Pauwels and Walsleben, as Nys led Vantornout across to the two chasers. Pauwels then suffered another slip, with Walsleben leaving him behind; as the Sunweb-Revor rider was caught by the next two, his teammate Vantornout slipped out on a rutted off camber descent.

Walsleben was still 23 seconds adrift of van der Haar across the line, with Pauwels and Nys at 31 seconds. Vantornout, Aernouts and Meeusen were chasing hard to make it across to the group, when Nys suffered his own bad luck as his front wheel punctured. The World champion continued to ride on the flat wheel, but was struggling to control his bike on the technical sections and slipped back in the group.

Pauwels made his way back up to Walsleben before the end of the lap, but the two of them were still 21 seconds behind van der Haar with two laps to go.

Pauwels was visibly tiring by now, and was having trouble staying in touch with the German champion, as Vantornout began to close him down. Walsleben too was beginning to struggle, however, and Pauwels came past him mid-lap and began to move away. The gap to the lone leader was still 21 seconds at the bell.

Having taken a new bike, Nys was cutting his way through the chasing pack once more, but the podium was now a long way out of his reach. The World champion’s day finally ended, however, as he snapped the chain on his replacement bike, and abandoned the race as he walked back to his camper.

Van der Haar was still powering around the course, with the luxury of being able to choose his own line around the technical sections. The rutted sections caused the Dutch champion a brief wobble as he unclipped a foot to balance himself, but he had plenty of time in hand as he rounded the final bends on the way to the finish.

Pauwels seemed to be slowing again as he chased in second place, with Walsleben now looking in danger from Vantornout just a few seconds behind him.

Van der Haar was already punching the air though, as he entered the slightly uphill finishing straight, and took his first ever elite World Cup victory. Pauwels then rolled in 20 seconds later, with Walsleben holding onto his third place - to take a first ever World Cup podium for himself - after 38 seconds.

1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
3. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
5. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team
6. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink
8. Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia-Guerciotti
9. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
10. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Telenet-Fidea


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