Van Der Haar defends U-23 title in Koksijde

By Patrick O’Grady

Defending under-23 champion Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands) won a thriller of a battle with Wiete Bosmans (Belgium) on Saturday at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde.

Van Der Haar and Bosmans were off the front early, chased by Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands). Bosmans took a slight lead going into three laps to go, and Van Der Haar gambled, waiting for Van Der Heijden to join him.

Lars Van Der Haar

Lars Van Der Haar made some mistakes, but had the power to overcome them.

The two Dutch riders closed on Bosmans as the lap played out, and with two laps to race they gave it the gas, gapping the Belgian, who fought back.

Going into the bell lap the Dutch riders held a brief confab at the line and Bosmans led off the pavement.

After some thrust and parry Van Der Haar attacked from third wheel and took the lead. His teammate was slightly gapped, but Bosmans hung tough.

Both fought back on and all three traded attacks and counters in the deep sand. After a bobble in one tough section Van Der Heijden briefly got his bike caught in the course fencing, but he recovered and rejoined the others.

Then Van Der Haar botched a sandy descent and Bosmans shot past.

But the Dutch rider was never in trouble — he got right back on Bosman’s wheel, then attacked on the final grassy section leading to the tarmac.

Van Der Haar led out the sprint with Bosmans on his wheel, but the Belgian knew he was beaten well before the line, raising his right hand and pounding his bars in frustration. He held on for second with Van Der Heijden third.

• Photos from worlds | • Last lap and more from Sporza

“I had a very good start and tried to get a gap and take the initiative to make the race hard. And it worked,” Van Der Haar said. “On the last grass bit when I passed him I knew I had won.”

Zach McDonald — pulling a wheelie at the line — was the top American in 12th.

In juniors racing, Mathieu Van Der Poel collected the first rainbow jersey of the day for the Netherlands. Wout Van Aert (Belgium) took silver with Quinten Hermans (France) third. Andrew Dillman was the tiop American, finishing 14th.

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One Response to “Van Der Haar defends U-23 title in Koksijde”

  1. Cyclo-cross! « Mad Blog Media Says:

    […] having spent the morning watching the first half of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde, I decided to pull the bottle cage off my […]

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