European Champion Lars van der Haar grabs victory in Tabor
Sunday 14 November 2021
Dutchman Lars van der Haar, the recently-crowned European World Champion, clearly had the wind beneath his wings in Tabor, Czech Republic. The racer from the Baloise Trek Lions Team pepped up the race with some strong accelerations.
Eli Iserbyt, the leader in the World Cup Cyclo-Cross ranking, was the first to head into the field in Tabor, Czech Republic. The circuit was very dry, which served to increase the pace. Based on previous races, we had learned that the pack might stay together for a long time, and this was indeed the case after the first lap.
In the second lap too, nobody was letting anyone else gain a single metre. The result was one long line of racers. At the start of the third lap, however, European champion Lars van der Haar decided to rock the boat. The racer from the Baloise Trek Lions team stepped up the pace significantly, causing a few gaps to open in the pack.
Van der Haar seemed to be in enormously good form because in lap four as well, the Dutch racer continued to lead the race. For the first time, a group pulled away, including four leaders: Lars van der Haar, Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Quinten Hermans. Iserbyt and Corné van Kessel followed a few metres behind them. In the meantime, Quinten Hermans had to contend with a flat tyre. He was forced to switch bikes and thus had no choice but to start chasing the others.
At the start of lap 5, everything had to be redone. The pace stalled at the head of the race, enabling Iserbyt and Van Kessel as well as Hermans who had fallen back due to bike issues to catch up again. Vanthourenhout saw his chance as a result of the regrouping and mounted an attack. Aerts and Iserbyt followed, while Van der Haar was trailing slightly too far and ended up having to chase them.
At the start of lap 6, the circuit forced another regroup, with eight racers. The pace flagged and the leaders looked to each other to see who would be the first to launch the attack. There was no threat from the field so the winner had to be one of these eight racers in the lead group. Toon Aerts accelerated next, but the reason for this soon became clear when he switched bikes for a bike with higher pressures in its tyres.
As a result, Iserbyt saw an opportunity and set a searing pace. Van der Haar immediately responded, closing the gap with Iserbyt, who accelerated again. But the European Champion seemed to have no problem whatsoever with the accelerations, turning the tables on Iserbyt with an attack. Only Hermans and Michael were able to close the gap with the lead duo, but they were also forced to fall back after the Dutchman ramped up the pressure again with another acceleration.
In the last lap, it was Iserbyt and van der Haar who were still pushing for victory. The European champion kept the pressure up with a number of powerful accelerations, forcing Iserbyt to let up, metre by metre, and concede victory. Van der Haar thus raced to victory in Tabor, with Iserbyt consolidating his leadership position in the ranking. Hermans ended up finishing third.