European champion Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) continued his hot streak of form by taking victory in a race of attrition at round six of the UCI World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic. The Dutchman’s display was reminiscent of when he first broke through on to the elite stage at Tabor in 2012. This was his first World Cup victory since Hoogerheide in 2017.
Van der Haar traded blows with World Cup series leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) throughout the finale and was able to gap the Belgian on the eighth lap of eight with a devastating attack.
A much-loved round on the calendar, the race followed the traditional wide Tabor course which includes fast berms, two sets of steps and the famous race-altering uphill barriers.
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In previous editions, weather has greatly impacted the racing with snow being a regular feature. There would be no such conditions on Sunday though with the lines running relatively smooth and dry with some sections slowly cutting up throughout the day, provoking most riders to run their pressures at 1.5 bar (22 psi). A relentless, undulating circuit, the victor would have to be in control of all their cyclocross skills in this high-intensity race.
The fast conditions meant that, like the women’s elite race, it was more of a question of tactics over the hour than just pure technical ability. On the opening laps, the usual suspects stayed close to each other with Iserbyt, and Hermans testing their legs on the front before Van der Haar put in a burst to stretch out the field going into the third lap.
A leading six of Van der Haar, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions), Michael Vanthourenhout, Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal), Quinten Hermans and Corne van Kessel (Tormans-Circus Cyclo Cross Team) would eventually extend a lead.
The previous day's winner of the GP Leuven, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal), and Vincent Baestaens (CX Team Deschacht – Group hens – Maes Containers), who both made the 891-kilometre commute to Czechia that evening, leapfrogged Hermans as he suffered a puncture but helped the Belgian re-join the front group.
The race then followed a consistent script over the next few laps with Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal all putting in mini accelerations to check the legs of their rivals. Overall leader Iserbyt then ramped the pace up over the barriers on lap six and was followed by the similarly built and punchy Van der Haar.

Highlights: Van der Haar takes 'absolutely flawless' win at World Cup Tabor

These various attacks eventually stretched the front group out with Van der Haar and Iserbyt extending a three second advantage over chaser Hermans going into the final lap with Aerts and Vanthourenhout a further 15 seconds in arrears.
Van der Haar then proved the strongest on the final lap, attacking through the finish line as the bell tolled. Iserbyt would have to dig deep to keep within eye shot of the Dutchman’s back wheel.
At the 2015 world championships in Tabor, Van der Haar was distanced by winner Mathieu van der Poel thanks, in part, to his compatriot’s power over the barriers. History would not repeat itself though with the European champion attacking Iserbyt before the barriers so that his dismounting technique would not be punished by the bunny-hopping Belgian. Van der Haar then took this advantage all the way to the line to win his eighth ever elite World Cup.
The result means Iserbyt now has a 51-point lead in the overall standings with only three points separating the rest of the top five going into the ever-popular Koksijde round next weekend. With the returning golden trio of Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert and Tom Pidcock coming ever closer, it remains to be seen how the cyclocross regulars will fare against these prestigious multi-talents.
By Oskar Scarsbrook
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