by Bart Hazen
Dutch Lars van der Haar is the new U23 European Champion. The second year U23 rider from the Rabobank-Giant Offroad team outsprinted his Italian rival Elia Silvestri for the win. Belgian Joeri Adams finished third with Arnaud Grand, Emiel Dolfsma, Tijmen Eising, Kevin Eeckhout, Matthieu Boulo, Michael Schweizer and Matteo Trentin completing the top 10. Swiss Arnaud Grand (Telenet-Fidea) had the best start and broke clear on the first lap. He rode in the lead for about three laps before Lars van der Haar, Elia Silvestri, Tijmen Eising and Michael Schweizer bridged up.
The decisive moment came halfway the race when Van der Haar, Silvestri, Eising and Grand created a gap. Due to the efforts of Silvestri and Van der Haar the two others dropped off. Silvestri tried several times to get rid of his Dutch rival but without any success. Silvestri took too much risk in the final corner and almost missed it. Van der Haar took advantage of it and outsprinted the Italian to take his second win of the week, after winning the Superprestige race in Zonhoven. Belgian Joeri Adams finished as third after a bad start.
For The Netherlands it’s already the second gold medal after the win of Van den Brand in the women’s race. With the silver medal of Van Paassen, The Netherlands was the best coutry of the day. Cross nation Belgian was left disillusioned with one bronze medal. Beforehand they hoped for at least a few medals especially in the Juniors and U23 race.
“It’s going well”, says Van der Haar. “I was recovered well from Zonhoven and the Koppenberg despite some bruised ribs. The start was good and contrary to the training the past weeks my ribs didn’t hurt. In the second lap I went in the chase on Grand with Silvestri on my wheel. We stayed together until the final lap but I was not able to drop him,” said a smiling Rabobank rider at the press conference. “Silvestri tried a few times to cut me off with some tricks. He started the sprint before the final corner. I knew he wasn’t going to hold it. Luckily I could pass him and win the race. You know, I never thought that I was not going to make it”, said a self-assured Van der Haar.
From now on the focus of Van der Haar is on the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee, the Superprestige and the World Cup that will start for the U23 category in Koksijde at the end of November. He wants to do well in the World Cup and he says that the course suits him well. Joeri Adams was not satisfied with his third place. “Absolutely not. I’m last years U23 and results that’s all that counts. I came to here to become European Champion. My start was bad and my legs didnt feel good the first lap. After that it was going better. When I bridged up to the chasing group for third Van der Haar and Silvestri were already gone,” concluded Adams.
|Lars VAN DER HAAR
|Michael (JR) SCHWEIZER
|Twan VAN DEN BRAND
|Micki VAN EMPEL
|Michiel VAN DER HEIJDEN