Although he had another year in the U23 ranks, two-time cyclo-cross world champion Lars van der Haar has chosen to move up to the elite ranks this season, and has high hopes for his performances there.
In this video provided by Giant, the Dutch rider explains his decision. "When I won my first Worlds, it was a really big thing for me. I thought I would never do it again. Then a year after I did it all over again."
Not content with the possibility of finishing lower than first at the U23 worlds, van der Haar said, "I spoke about it with the team and we decided to just go to the pros, and climb up the ladder again. So every year you can go stronger and stronger."
A punchy and powerful but small rider, van der Haar said he chose 'cross because he can use his strengths to an advantage, rather than battle against bigger, stronger riders on the road. "I think my secret weapon is still my sprint. My goal is to be top 10 in all the races and be national champion as well. I think I will be able to do that."
So far his record is right on track: his lowest finish in three races was the Superprestige in Ruddervoorde, where he stayed with the leaders for much of the race until fading back to seventh. In Las Vegas and Kalmthout, he finished just off the podium in fourth.