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The second round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup was held at Tabor in the Czech Republic on Saturday. In seasons gone past there have been back-to-back weekends of racing in the Czech Republic. This time the visit was fleeting, especially with Superprestige at Ruddervoorde (Belgium) the next day.
The dry twisty grass course was not the defining feature of the racing; it was the heat. The heat was such a factor that feeding was allowed, which is a rarity in cyclocross.
In the women’s race, Katie Compton created a gap on the second lap and took victory over the Telenet-Fidea duo of Nikki Harris and local hero, Pavel Havlikova. Compton didn’t have it all her own way, as a mechanical on the last lap saw the chasing pair nearly make contact. The “American style” course suited Meredith Miller who rode brilliantly to finish 6th, demonstrating the strength of the women’s scene in the USA.
Having swapped his national champion skinsuit for the white World Cup leader’s version, Lars van der Haar was the rider to watch in the men’s race. Early in the race, van der Haar and fellow young gun Philipp Walsleben slipped off the front and quickly built a sizeable advantage.
The pair were looking comfortable until van der Haar dropped it on one of the few slippery corners. After a lap chasing he caught Walsleben again. The pair continued to maintain their advantage up until the last lap.
Behind Francis Mourey showed his strength and only Kevin Pauwels could hold his wheel. The sprint for victory was a great battle with Lars van der Haar on the hoods just edging out Philipp Walsleben on the drops. After a crash earlier, Francis Mourey bad luck continued as he was rolled by Kevin Pauwels for third.
With Lars van der Haar’s back-to-back victories and Philipp Walsleben podium time we could be seeing a changing of the guard in cyclocross. The Belgians should be worried as this is the third World Cup in a row they have not been on the top step!
Text by Paul Aubrey, BrewCX.