Cyclocross World Cup: van der Haar wins fast Zolder race with last minute attack
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cyclocross World Cup: van der Haar wins fast Zolder race with last minute attack

by Ben Atkins at 10:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Dutch champion extends overall lead with third season victory

lars can der haarLars van der Haar (Rabobank) took his third victory in the 2013/14 World Cup as he jumped away from a large group in the closing stages of the final lap of the race at the motor racing circuit at Zolder, Belgium. The 22-year-old Netherlands champion was the first back on his bike at the top of the course’s one big run up, and managed to make this count as he sprinted towards the final descent to the tarmac track, holding off Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) in the final dash for the line.

Bina took his first World Cup podium of the season, at the end of an aggressive race for the Czech rider, as he managed to beat compatriot, Czech national champion Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) - arguably the most aggressive rider of the day - who had to settle for third place in his first World Cup race of the season.

A third victory in the series saw van der Haar extend his overall lead over German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), who rode a strong race with several attacks, but had to settle for fourth. The challenge in the season-long competition from Walsleben’s teammate Niels Albert effectively died in the opening moments of the race as the former World champion crashed on the very first corner.

The Germans make the early running but the Dutch soon take over

Walsleben made the fastest start as the field sprinted away on the tarmac straight. Štybar, starting way back thanks to his lack of seeding this season, managed to dash past several rows of riders, but Albert tangled with a barrier and crashed and was last of the 57 riders as he remounted and gave chase.

Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) then led through much of the first lap, with Marcel Meisen (Kwadro-Stannah) right behind him, and the German rider soon came through to take his turn on the front.

The dry course meant that the field was staying all together, strung out into a long line, but Meisen managed to open up a small gap for himself.

Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) then moved to the front of the pack, edging closer to Meisen as they neared the end of the lap, and the Belgian caught the German just before they descended to the finishing straight for the first time.

Albert was 31 seconds down on the sizeable lead group - now led by Albert’s teammate Walsleben - at the end of lap one. Walsleben began to edge clear, and the pace of the chase began to fracture the group behind the German champion. There was still more than a dozen riders strung out behind him as it snaked its way through the course’s wooded section, however.

A slip on a corner from Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) saw the two-time Zolder winner drop back, and blocked a number of other riders.

Peeters hit the front again, and a group began to form behind him, with Štybar, Bina, van der Haar, Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Walsleben.

World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) was leading a group containing AA Drink duo Thijs van Amerongen and Bart Aernouts, with Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Swisspower), Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus) and Jim Aernouts (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) not far back.

Albert was still sprinting in an effort to get back on terms with the leading groups, with Steve Chainel (AG2R La Mondiale) on his wheel.

A dry course sees a big group take on the closing stages

The two lead groups came together just before the finish line with four to go, while Albert was just 19 seconds behind. Peeters accelerated, but Walsleben then came around the Belgian and jumped clear. Vantornout was leading the chase but, even as the group accelerated in pursuit of the German champion, Albert was beginning to make contact with its rear.

As the group caught Walsleben, Štybar accelerated himself and opened up a gap. Vantornout was again the rider to chase the attack down, with van der Haar, Bina and Walsleben on his wheel.

Peeters just about managed to claw his way across, but Nys was having trouble closing the gap at the head of the group behind him. Steadily the World champion hunted the six-rider group down, and made contact as they shouldered their bikes to run up away from the track level.

Descending down to the finishing straight Štybar jumped again and split the group as only van der Haar, Bina, Vantornout and Peeters able to go with him once again.

Albert was now in a group with with teammate Bosmans, and Sunweb-Napoleon Games duo Pauwels and Jim Aernouts. The former World champion sat up just before the line as he looked frustratedly at the others on his wheel, and crossed the line 19 seconds back.

Nys pulled the leading group back yet again, as Pauwels came through to lead the Albert group behind them.

Štybar and van der Haar take turns to try to split the pack

Štybar was determined to split it up, however, and pulled away again with van der Haar and Bina on his wheel. The pace dropped a little once more, however, allowing the others to reform, and the Pauwels/Albert group made contact soon afterwards.

Peeters then hit the front to try to break things up, then Štybar went over the top of the Belgian just before the long, technical drop back to track level. The Czech champion managed to open a gap for himself, but was caught by the others yet again as the group shouldered their bikes to climb back up again.

Taking the wooden ramp back down to the track and the finishing straight there were more than a dozen riders lined up on Štybar’s wheel as he led across the line to take the bell.

Walsleben then took the front, and the group strung out but didn’t break. Gradually, he pulled Peeters and van der Haar away, but Štybar was close behind, with Bina on his wheel, and the rest weren’t far behind. Nys allowed a gap to open, however, seeing the group drop to seven, while Albert was struggling to maintain contact at the back.

Štybar attacked yet again, but van der Haar moved up before the long descent. On the run up the two of them were side by side at the head of the group, but van der Haar accelerated again as they remounted.

The Dutch champion was just a few metres clear as Bina gave chase and, as he hit the finishing straight he opened up his sprint, and just managed to hold off the Czech rider to take the victory.

1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
2. Martin Bina (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah
3. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
5. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-KDL
7. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
8. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
9. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink
10. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink

World Cup standings after five rounds
1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 337pts
2. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 304
3. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 279
4. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 275
5. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 273


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