Harris Leads from Start and Finds Her Way Back by the Finish
The Superprestige at Spa-Francorchamps, close to where the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race passes, is a mixture of brutal grassy run ups, descents with speed sucking bogs, and loads of formula one racing tracks. Nikki Harris (VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) found a way to tackle every part of the course to take her first win of the season, her last win taking place at the Superprestige Hoogstraten a week after the World Championships at Hoogerheide. Two of the segments suited Harris’s talents well: the pavement climbs on the tracks, and the steep run-ups.
Harris shot off at the start of the race, matching the leaders and vaulting herself to the front of the pack right off the pavement. She was soon after chased down by Meredith Miller (Noosa), Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) and Helen Wyman (Kona).
Although the race began in a downhill pavement sprint, by the time the off-road section became technical, Wyman took control of the race, and held off the others on the run-ups. An unfortunate bobble was more than enough to send her fellow countrywoman on the attack, and Harris once again found herself pacing the race as Cant began feeling the effects of her hard efforts on the day before.
Meanwhile, Miller had a horribly timed flat, causing her to lose gobs of time after the pits. She would recover from the incident to go on to take 11th on the day.
Harris held off the others, leading out for the entirety of the final lap and being able to celebrate as she crossed the line, her first win on the season. Wyman was able to take third, and Ellen van Loy (Telenet-Fidea) worked her way up to take third.
American racer and Cyclocross Magazine contributor Elle Anderson instagramed that the course was one “Craziest, most dangerous, steepest course I’ve ever done,” and took 16th on the day. Our long-time contributor, Christine Vardaros, followed behind in 17th.
Pauwels Capitalizes on Late Van der Haar Crash for Elite Men’s Win
Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) was reportedly told by his doctor that he was too sick to race on Saturday for the second round of the World Cup at Koksijde, but it looks as Sunday’s race could have slipped the doctor’s mind. The young Dutch rider approached the start line, apparently no worse for the wear, and ready to contend for the win.
Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), the German rider who made some of the more impressive counter-attacks yesterday in the World Cup against eventual winner Van Aert, made some early digs in the course in an attempt to feel out the legs of the other riders. All of his strides were matched on the pavement that in some sections acted like a crit for the X-Games.
Eventually it was Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) who made the first break that stuck, with Van der Haar the only rider able to stay with him on the run-ups after the Dutch rider mustered a big effort to shed the other riders. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), another big name who worked with Walsleben the day before, alongside Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) and several others, including Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea), created a chase group to hunt down the departing duo.
Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), the young rider who is making large waves so far this year, led the surge forward, although the constant effort finally put Nys over the top, keeping the Belgian out of podium contention (he would go on to take eighth). The chase group continued to fracture as it seemed only Meeusen was able to keep up with the young rider.
Meanwhile, Van der Haar pressed on in the race to hold on to Pauwels, although the Giant-Shimano rider wasn’t going to settle for second. He timed a well-executed attack, although it would end up costing him a serious mistake as he bobbled in the back woods of the course. That was more than enough incentive to put Pauwels on the offensive, and he was able to maintain his lead to the end, beating Van der Haar by 15 seconds.
Meeusen also put in a large dig, although he followed his attack up with a flawless remaining ride, which allowed him to take the last place on the podium above Van der Poel. Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund) represented the United States, trying out his legs for the first time in Europe. He ended up finishing 30th in this trial by fire, and will certainly benefit for the wild course conditions he found today.
Men’s Elite Race Full Results Below; Superprestige Series typically 24 hours delayed in their Women’s Elite Race submissions to the UCI
Spa-Francorchamps Men's Elite Race 2014
|2||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||23||59:48:00|
|4||Mathieu VAN DER POEL||NED||19||1:00:17|
|7||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||23||1:00:38|
|10||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||28||1:01:27|
|17||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||25||1:02:22|
|21||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||29||1:03:01|
|23||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||35||1:03:29|
|25||Dave DE CLEYN||BEL||26||1:05:20|