Lars van der Haar is typically a 'diesel' who excels in the latter part of a cyclo-cross race. However, the Dutch champion from Baloise Trek Lions has stood out in the initial stages of the last two races. Following a counter from Eli Iserbyt in Troyes last week, a similar scenario unfolded this Saturday in Kortrijk. But why launch an attack so early? That was the question posed to him after the race in IDLProCycling.com.
Besides the fact that Van der Haar didn't secure the victory, despite some intense elbow action with Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout, it was also because he fired a significant shot in the opening phase. "I wanted to claim those first 15 bonus seconds on the first lap, and when I found myself well into the race, I had to give it a shot. Normally, I struggle in the early stages, but the opportunity presented itself to seize those seconds, especially because I am aiming for this classification (the X2O Trophy, ed.). If you manage to create a gap like that, you have to keep pushing. It was certainly not the initial plan, but it unfolded that way. The original intention was to drop back after securing those bonus seconds, but that plan didn't account for having an eight-second lead on Eli. The gap was too significant not to take advantage."
According to Van der Haar, it was Vanthourenhout who ultimately brought everything back together. "I then knew that he and Eli were going to play a troublesome game for me. It's something you have to endure, and fortunately, Cameron Mason joined in, aiming to maintain a high pace. It was unfortunate that he fell because it created a perfect situation for me. Eli and Michael could continue their tactics in the final stages, and in those slippery conditions, it's challenging to react to every move and overtake competitors. The last lap wasn't very eventful, and I focused on Eli. Then, only Michael fell, and that was the moment that troubled me the most. I had to dismount completely, and I had no chance of coming back. I might have been the fastest at the line, but you have to be in a position to contest it."
Van der Haar opts for a new approach towards Christmas
For Van der Haar, it's a day of rest on Sunday as he opts out of the World Cup in Dublin. We will see him in action for one more weekend before he embarks on an internship in Mallorca. This marks a new approach for the Dutchman, who typically participates in all events. "I've only missed one cyclo-cross race compared to the others, but I've also been sick, so I'm unsure of the current benefits. I do hope for a positive effect as we head into January. With a bit more endurance training, the goal is to have some extra energy towards the end of the season. This is a strategy I haven't employed before, not in recent years. I used to do it when I was very young, though."