The win from Lars van der Haar was achieved in a tactical and extremely fast race on a dry course. The 22 year-old Dutchman tactically kept the pace high in front of the race. At the back of the pack his rival Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) ruined his chances with a first corner crash. Albert managed a nice comeback and late in the race he even joined the back of the large lead group which then existed of thirteen riders. Moving up was impossible though making him miss out on a lot of World Cup points. In front Van der Haar responded well to accelerations from German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).
When approaching the crucial stairs shortly before the finishing straight Van der Haar was once again at the front of the group. Behind him Stybar didn’t get into his pedals as fast as the Dutchman when exiting the stairs and that cost him the victory. Stybar’s compatriot Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) surged by him but he came too late to beat Van der Haar in the sprint. It’s the third win in five World Cup rounds for Van der Haar who now holds a 33-points gap over Walsleben in the overall standings. World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) never left his mark on the race and finished sixth in Zolder.
Katherine Compton did a great job in the World Cup standings in the Women’s race on Thursday afternoon. Just like in Namur last weekend Compton finished solo ahead of world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women). Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) finished fourth on the dry and fast course in Zolder and she remains in second place in the World Cup at a massive 65 points from Compton. Vos took the early lead in Zolder. Behind her Compton got of to a slower start and her biggest rival in the World Cup, Nikki Harris, got stuck in one of the first corners. Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) was the only rider who was able to keep up with Vos. Halfway the race the duo was caught back by World Cup leader Compton. The 35 year-old American wasted no time and attacked straight away. Cant cracked while Vos managed to up her pace and get back on Compton’s wheel. Her efforts were in vain. Half a lap later Vos was unable to match the power of the American rider who used her strength on the short uphill sections.
At the finish line Compton held a twenty seconds gap over Vos, taking her fourth win in five World Cup rounds. Cant settled for third place on home soil. Nikki Harris fought back from her bad start and finished fourth, beating a well-started Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (BH – SR Suntour – KMC) in the sprint. Triple world champion Hanka Kupfernagel (Rusvelo) made her comeback in Zolder and needed time to get into her rhythm. The 39 year-old German rider finished on a distant sixteenth place.
Mathieu van der Poel strengthened his lead in the World Cup after a tactical race in the Men Under 23 category. Halfway the race the lead group was still large in numbers. World champion Mike Teunissen (Netherlands) and Van der Pool took turns in the attack. When Teunissen was caught back Van der Poel ceased his moment on a technical zone. The 18 year-old rider created a gap of ten seconds and held on for his third World Cup win of the season. Wout Van Aert (Belgium) was second at eleven seconds ahead of Teunissen. Van Aert trails Van der Poel by a massive 54 points in the World Cup standings.
As expected World Cup leader Yannick Peeters (Belgium) and Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic) were the strong men in the Junior Men category. Less expected was the presence from Thijs Aerts (Belgium). The latter attacked halfway the race and his move was covered by compatriot Peeters. The Belgian duo was left dangling though when Toupalik attacked Peeters in the penultimate lap, and then went up and over Aerts towards his second World Cup win of the season. Peeters finished as runner-up and remains in the lead of the World Cup.
On January 5, 2014 the penultimate round of the World Cup is held at the hippodrome of Capanelle in the outskirts of Rome, Italy.
- The madness has begun (angusedmond.wordpress.com)