Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano Development Team) returned to the form that impressed us all last season, taking a phenomenal solo win at Heusden-Zolder, his first World Cup event win since the first stage at Valkenburg. The podium from that race was actually identical, with Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) taking second and Corne van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) rounding out the podium in third.
Although he didn’t take the holeshot on the pavement, Pauwels was the bravest going into the first 180 degree turn, hitting his brakes last and using his hand on the posts to keep his turn tight. David van der Poel was also an early frontrunner with Van der Haar. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was also an early leader, taking a good start off his front-line call-up, and look to continue an impressive start by the Americans with great races by the U23 and Junior men earlier in the day. He had a difficult time with the first decent, however, costing him some time with the leaders.
As with many of the World Cups this season, Philipp Walsleben, the German National Champion, attacked early in the race, although Van der Haar and Van der Poel were able to maintain the rhythm close behind.
The race was won with seven laps to go, however, as Van der Haar put in a huge effort after catching Walsleben and propelled himself onward in a course where a lone rider was given an advantage with line selection. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), looking for any kind of competitive edge in the overall standings, fought his way to the head of the chase group, although he looked like he might have put in too much of an effort by the way he struggled during the remainder of the race.
Pauwels, the current World Cup series leader, attacked as well with Walsleben, and all three podium contending riders soon found themselves riding in their own lone races. Pauwels caught sight of Van der Haar several times throughout the race, and although he made lots of ground with four laps to go, he was never able to get close enough to first to put on enough pressure for the Dutch national champion.
I'm a happy man! Win in World Cup Heusden-Zolder. Liked the new course. Lot more challenging! Thanks for all the support!
— Lars van der Haar (@larsvanderhaar) December 26, 2014
Meanwhile, Walsleben was caught by a small pack of four riders wanting to contend for the last podium spot, and Julien Taramarcaz of Switzerland dictated the pace for many of the laps. On the bell lap, he battled Van Keesel, and the two of them were able to leave Walsleben and the other riders behind. Taramarcaz shot down the pavement descents and bridges first, but Van Kessel was the stronger sprinter, and took the Swiss rider at the line for third.
Powers was the leading American rider, taking 18th place after a strong start, and finished directly behind Meeusen.
— Jeremy Powers (@JeremyPowers) December 26, 2014
Jonathan Page was the last rider to avoid getting pulled, coming in at 38th, which must have been a disappointment after his stronger ride in Namur, but jokingly blamed it on his Christmas partying.
I guess i had too much Christmas yesterday!! Awesome equipment, horribly blocked up legs today. Better blocked than empty. Bredene tomorrow.
— Jonathan Page (@thejonathanpage) December 26, 2014
Robert Marion was the third and final rider for the USA, taking 44th.
Two Canadians took the start today, with Aaron Schooler in 43rd and Mark McConnell in 49th. See McConnell’s tales from racing in Belgium here.
2014 Heusden Zolder World Cup, Men's Elite Race
|1||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||23||1:08:10|
|3||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||23||1:09:20|
|6||David VAN DER POEL||NED||22||1:09:41|
|22||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||35||1:12:06|
|35||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||25||1:14:53|
|40||Ismael Felix BARBA FRUTOS||ESP||23|
|42||Agustin NAVARRO VIDAL||ESP||36|
|45||Asier ARREGUI DOMINGUEZ||ESP||36|
|47||Ramon SAGUES PORTABELLA||ESP||36|