Lars van der Haar (Baloise-Trek Lions) won their third Eredivisie title in Rucphen on Sunday. The 30-year-old van der Haar is the successor to Matteo van der Poel, who has won the past six editions of the Dutch championship. Van der Poel ended the cyclocross season prematurely due to a back injury and was therefore absent.
Van der Haar also won the title of Dutch champion in 2013 and 2014. After that, he always had to lose to Van der Poel in the Dutch national championships. At Rucphen, Van der Haar was in a class of his own in Van der Poel’s absence. Corné van Kessel took second place after about a minute. Bronze went to Mees Hendrikx, who also took the title in the U23 class on the spot.
Van der Haar actually won the European title on Mount VAM in Drenthe last fall. He was however nervous before the fight for the national title began. “Actually, I was more nervous than ever from NK. I felt like I could only lose here,” he said after driving alone for an hour on a varied course from Rucphen, famous for its so-called carousel. “I felt like I quickly had a cavity. Also on Van Kessel, I didn’t expect it. After that, it was important not to stop.”
So it became a long story: single in the lead, and also without an audience along the course, which made it very monotonous. “I counted the countdown laps. It took a long time and was very boring without spectators. I started dividing my competition into sections. In the last two laps I was able to slow it down a bit, just driving at my own pace. It was clear that I could see where my competition was. They drive exactly in it.”
At the end of the month, in the absence of defending champion Matthew van der Poel, he and van Kessel formed the Dutch limited contribution to the men’s elite at the Mondial Fayetteville in the United States. Wout van Aert is also missing, which means the title battle is open. “I don’t care if they’re not there. I’m going to the podium anyway,” van der Haar said.
An already successful season rainbow shirt will make perfect. Van der Haar: “I think I was around the European Championship better than I was today. I will now train hard and focus on the World Cup. Getting another shirt would be really special.”
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