Cyclocross World Cup: Lars van der Haar goes two from two in Tábor
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cyclocross World Cup: Lars van der Haar goes two from two in Tábor

by Ben Atkins at 10:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Netherlands champion outsprints Philipp Walsleben despite mid-race crash

lars van der haarLars van der Haar (Rabobank) took his second victory in the 2013/14 cyclocross World Cup, in Tábor, Czech Republic, to maintain his perfect record in the season-long competition. The Netherlands champion, who had taken his first ever World Cup victory in the previous race in Valkenberg, in his home country, overcame a mid-race crash to outsprint German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) at the finish, after the two of them had escaped on the first of nine laps.

A fast race saw the two riders steadily move further clear of the fluctuating chase, but it was Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) - the winner of the two previous editions of Tábor World Cup - who managed to escape the others and beat French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) to the third spot on the podium.

“It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what to say,” said van der Haar afterwards. “I worked to this two weeks, and I thought that Sunday [the race in Valkenburg - ed] was my best day, but today was just really good again and we could stay away.

“I had a problem with my [rear] derailleur - the cable was loose - I looked at it and then I forgot to turn properly so I crashed,” the Netherlands champion explained. “Then it was eight seconds to close, and I thought ‘oh no,’ but I came back and then it was just together until the sprint.

“[The chase back was] crazy hard,” he added. “I knew that if I kept the gas full open then I had a chance of coming back, because he was tired as well. I had no other option, I had to try!

“Philipp is fast, he has won sprints on the road, but I knew that, if I could come out of the corner correctly, I had a really good shot at winning. But you never know against such a strong rider as Philipp.

“Now I know,” he smiled.

Van der Haar’s victory meant that he increased his lead in the overall World Cup classification, while Walsleben and Pauwels - whose positions were reversed in Valkenberg - were now in joint second place.

With the fine weather that had meant a fast race in the earlier women’s race sticking around, the men’s race was to be an equally speedy test of riders’ endurance.

Mourey was first away from the start, and led around much of the first lap, with the field strung out behind him on the fast surface. Having had such a bad race in Valkenburg the previous week, World Cup champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was tucked in behind the Frenchman in second wheel, just ahead of Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah), with series leader van der Haar and World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) just behind them.

Van der Haar moved ahead of the French champion on lap two, as Mourey drifted back into the string behind him. Walsleben moved ahead after the staircase, increasing the pace further, but the speed of the course meant that the group was still together behind him.

Bunny-hopping over the two hurdles saw Bina move up ahead of Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) in the line, while Nys made up several places by jumping them himself. As Walsleben continued to kick, however, he and van der Haar began to drift away from the others.

At the end of the lap the duo was six seconds clear of the chasing group of Bina, Vantornout, Albert, Nys, Julien Taramarcaz (BMC), Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) and Mourey, with Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) several more riders managing to join the rear of the group.

A slippery corner that had caught out several riders already in the race, then saw Pauwels come down, but the rider who had been second in Valkenberg was soon up and part of the long string of riders in pursuit of Walsleben and van der Haar.

Over the hurdles the two leaders had widened their advantage to 17 seconds, as Bina’s bunny-hopping saw him move slightly clear of the rest of the chasers. Taramarcaz was soon pulling the others up to the Czech rider’s wheel, however, with the group now establishing itself clear of the others.

The group was now made up of Bina, Taramarcaz, Aernouts, Vantornout, Albert, Nys, Pauwels, Mourey, Corne van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink), Egoitz Murgoitio (Hirumet Taldea) and Enrico Franzoi (Guerciotti-Selle Italia)

With van der Haar now doing the pacesetting on the front, in an apparent effort to drop Walsleben, the leading duo was 21 seconds clear at the end of lap three.

Several riders took their turns to lead the chasing group but, only when Pauwels took the front, did the gap appear to start to close. The group began to split into threes and fours as the former World Cup champion piled on the pressure, with just Bina and Vantornout able to hold on to his wheel.

Walsleben was now trying to drop van der Haar, but the Netherlands champion was comfortably able to hold on. As they hit that slippery corner, however, van der Haar came down, and struggled to free his bike from a cable on the side of the course. Across the line at the race’s halfway point, the German champion was 13 seconds ahead of his former companion; Pauwels was now at 21 seconds, having broken clear of the chase group.

Meanwhile, Nys’ World Cup campaign took another blow as the World champion came down on a corner, shortly before the one that had recently claimed van der Haar, and the World champion lost contact with the chasing group.

Walsleben passed through the pits, taking a drink instead of a new bike, and choosing not to dismount. Van der Haar was clawing his way back up to the German champion, but Pauwels had been rejoined by Albert, Vantornout and Mourey behind him.

Just after the corner that had taken him down on the previous lap, van der Haar made contact with Walsleben, and was on his wheel as they crossed the line with four to go. As Albert looked over his shoulder to his three companions, the chase group was now at 24 seconds, while van Kessel led Bina and Aernouts over another seven seconds later.

Mourey then accelerated clear of the apparently apathetic group, which injected a little pace in the chase as Albert sought to close the French champion down. He was clear over the hurdles, however, as all riders in the group dismounted to run over, and began to widen his lead over the three Belgians.

The French champion was 14 seconds behind the two leaders across the line with three laps to go, with Albert leading the chasing trio another 14 seconds behind him. Early in the lap, Mourey’s chain unshipped, however, and was caught by Albert, Pauwels and Vantornout; the chase group looked to soon be up to seven as van Kessel led Bina and Aernouts were now making contact.

Pauwels then hit the front of the chase, preventing the chasing trio from joining the back of the group, but the Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider was unable to break clear of the others. All of the chasers then passed through the pits - to take drinks not bikes - and Bina led them across shortly after the hurdles.

Vantornout then hit the front, to lead the chase, but van der Haar and Walsleben were still riding smoothly together up ahead. Franzo, Murgoitio and Franzoi were edging closer to the seven-rider group, however, threatening to take its number up to ten.

Taking no risks around the corner that had brought him down, van der Haar led Walsleben into the finishing straight, and across the line with two laps to go, and Mourey led the chasers through after 35 seconds.

Once again Mourey was trying to break clear of the chase group while, up ahead van der Haar changed his bike in the pits, but came out still alongside Walsleben. Mourey had pulled Vantornout clear of the group behind them, but Bina once again used his bunny-hopping skills to edge a little closer over the hurdles.

Pauwels joined Bina in pursuit of Mourey and Vantornout, while Albert led Aernouts and van Kessel a little further back. The four leading chasers came together through the infield switchbacks, but Albert’s trio was now seemingly left behind. Bina was unable to take the pace of the three riders, however, and drifted back to be joined by Albert and Aernouts.

It was Walsleben’s turn to change his bike just before the end of the lap, but this time van der Haar attacked as the German went in and managed to open a gap. Over the line to take the bell, the Dutchman was just two seconds clear, however, and so sat up to allow Walsleben to rejoin him.

Mourey led Vantornout and Pauwels over the line 26 seconds later, with Albert trying to fight his way back up to them.

The two leaders were still together up the staircase, but Walsleben tried to accelerated away shortly afterwards. The German champion had no luck in dropping the Dutchman, but Mourey appeared to be faring better behind them as he edged a little clear of the chase group.

Vantornout and Pauwels managed to hold on to the French champion, and the gap was closing to the leading duo. Mourey had van der Haar’s rear wheel in sight on the longer straights of the course, and kept the pressure on as he fought to shut them down before the end of the lap. This pace saw Vantornout dropped as they hit the infield switchbacks.

Up front Walsleben was still leading van der Haar, while Mourey was doing all of the chasing, with Pauwels on his wheel. There was not enough of the lap left to catch them, however and the two leaders were now positioning themselves for the sprint.

Pauwels sprinted away from Mourey, but Walsleben was now leading into the finishing straight.

Sprinting on the drops, the German champion initially looked as though he was going to hold off the Netherlands champion, who was holding the tops of his brake levers, but van der Haar gradually eased past Walsleben to take his second straight victory in the World Cup.

Mourey sprinted down the straight, but was unable to catch Pauwels, who calmly rolled over to take third.

Result Elite Men
1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
2. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
4. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ.fr
5. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
6. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
7. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
8. Martin Bina (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah
9. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
10. Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Guerciotti-Selle Italia

World Cup standings after round two
1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 160pts
2. Phillip Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 135
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 135
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 115
5. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink 103

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