In spite of a stacked field of top senior talent, reigning under-23 world cyclo-cross champion Lars van der Haar gave Rabobank-Giant the victory in CrossVegas, taking a photo-finish sprint from Christian Heule (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea).
"It was amazing, I could not see the line so I wasn't sure I won." said van der Haar, who was happy the race came back together in the final lap for a 9-rider sprint. "I have a strong explosive sprint, and it's hard to get away here because the grass is so heavy and in the wind, it's amazing - last year I was 8th place and this year first, it's a big win."
Van der Haar underscored the importance of the race for his bike sponsor Giant, which had a large presence at the course, and for getting UCI points ahead of his European competitors who won't race until the end of this month.
The 20-year-old Dutch talent bided his time as the top names like two-time world champion Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt) whittled down the race to 10 riders in the closing laps of the hour-long race. While most of the other riders put in attacks, Van der Haar was content to sit back and hope the race stayed together so he could unleash his powerful sprint.
"I don't think I'm the strongest guy here, I'm young and I don't have the power these guys have, so I really have to follow them," Van der Haar told Cyclingnews. "I was dying ten times a lap out there, I had a really rough race. But at the end, on the last lap it came together again, and I started my sprint and in the last 50m they died and I could get past them."
After an action-packed first half of the race, where the composition at the front of the race changed constantly, an elite group of 10 formed at the head of the race to battle out the remaining laps.
Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) put in the night's first serious attack, gaining a 10 second lead with three laps to go.
The group containing Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant), Van der Haar, Heule, Powers, Johnson, Trebon, Wells, Wellens and Peeters kept Driscoll at a steady gap until Wellens hit out on the next lap and made his way across to Driscoll.
The American quickly faded while Wellens pushed on, holding off the chase for nearly two full laps before surrendering to the last lap surges of first Powers then Trebon and fading back.
Wellens showed that the spark which netted him two world titles during his career is back after a difficult few years, plagued with injury and lacking in top victories. His attack was only nullified by the concerted efforts of Powers and Trebon in the final lap.
"It was a little bit of a gamble," Wellens said of his move. "It was waiting, waiting or going for the attack, and I choose the attack. I came with Driscoll and I thought with two we are stronger than alone, but he was not good enough so I go alone with still three laps. It was long - half a lap too long."
"We played the team play," said Peeters. "It looked good for Bart, but in the last lap we took him back, and then it was my turn to jump. It all went good, but I missed it in the sprint. I am going to think about this moment for a long time."
Peeters launched his counter-attack heading into the final 500m, but had used too much and gained too little ground at final turn, and it was Van der Haar who had enough left to dash up the hill and steal the win in the sprint, leaving Heule and Peeters to learn who was runner-up after a photo finish decision.
Peeters collapsed onto the grass after the finish and stayed down, trying to catch his breath and overcome his disappointment for the loss for a good few minutes.
"I was totally a bloc and couldn't turn my gear, so at the finish they jumped over me. I am disappointed I lost the victory, but I'm glad I have the good form. It's a mixed feeling," Peeters said. "I know my sprint is not so good and I'm going to work on it. It cost me the victory."
|1||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant||0:59:04|
|2||Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld|
|3||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|4||Jeremy Powers (USA) Team Rapha-Focus|
|5||Ryan Trebon (USA) LTS-Felt|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant|
|7||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:00:19|
|9||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:00:21|
|10||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Racing||0:01:34|
|11||Zach McDonald (USA) Team Rapha-Focus||0:01:39|
|12||Ben Berden (Bel) Stoemper|
|13||Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain||0:01:52|
|14||Jonathan Page (USA) Planetbike-Blue||0:02:03|
|15||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||0:02:07|
|16||Yannick Eckmann (Ger) Pearlizumi-Shimano-Focus||0:02:17|
|17||Alex Howes (USA) Chipotle Development Team||0:02:41|
|18||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|19||Fabio Ursi (Ita) C.S.Esercito||0:02:50|
|20||Justin Lindine (USA) Bikereg.com-Joe's Garage||0:02:52|
|21||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) DCM-GB Vorselaar||0:03:02|
|22||Travis Livermon (USA) SmartStop-Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley||0:03:42|
|23||Ryan Knapp (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross||0:03:46|
|24||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:03:47|
|25||Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh||0:03:54|
|26||Russell Stevenson (USA) Raleigh||0:03:58|
|27||Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda||0:04:10|
|28||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||0:04:27|
|29||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:04:43|
|30||Adam Myerson (USA) SmartStop-Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley||0:04:44|
|31||Ken Benesh (USA) Feedback Sports||0:04:46|
|32||Brandon Dwight (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||0:04:50|
|33||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin-Cervelo||0:04:51|
|34||Bryan Fawley (USA) Orbea Factory-Dallas Bike Works||0:04:54|
|35||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires||0:05:00|
|36||Jake Wells (USA) Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team||0:05:01|
|37||Tim Allen (USA) Feedback Sports|
|38||Andrew Reardon (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross|
|39||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||0:05:16|
|40||Kevin Fish (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires||0:05:23|
|41||Spencer Powlison (USA) Plains To Peaks Racing||0:05:42|
|42||Russell Harding (USA) Natural Grocers Cycling Team|
|43||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:05:55|
|44||John Behrens (USA) Bailey Bikes|
|45||Brennan Wodtli (USA) Hutch's Bicycles||0:06:04|
|46||Robin Eckmann (USA) Pearl Izumi-Shimano Team||0:06:29|
|47||John Bailey (USA) Bailey Bikes||0:06:35|
|48||Mathew Ankney (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires||0:06:40|
|49||Mitchell Kersting (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross||0:06:42|
|50||Jerome Townsend (USA) SmartStop-Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley||0:09:11|
|51||Molly Cameron (USA) Metafilter||0:10:06|
|52||Aaron Bradford (USA) Rocklobster||0:11:04|
|53||Ryan Dewald (USA) XO - Battley Harley-Davidson|
|54||Blake Anton (USA) Team Clif Bar Cycling|
|55||Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires|
|56||Chris Mackay (USA) Realcyclist.com|
|57||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross|
|58||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar|
|59||Braden Kappius (USA) Clif Bar|
|60||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant-Specialized|
|61||Grant Holicky (USA)|
|62||William Iaia (USA) Groove Subaru|
|63||Stephen Cummings (USA) C3 Athletes Serving Athletes|
|64||Scott Chapin (USA) Bay101-HRS-Rocklobster|
|65||Shadd Smith (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires|
|66||Johannes Huseby (USA)|
|67||Ken Hanson (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|68||Brad Cole (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires|
|69||David Sheek (USA) SDG-Felt p/b IRT|
|70||Kenny Wehn (USA) Notubes Race Team|
|71||Eric Colton (USA) The Team-Socalcross|
|72||Ryan Padilla (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|73||Collin Samaan (USA) The Bicycle Business TBB|
|74||Bryan Mickiewicz (USA) Hammer Nutrition|
|75||Jesse Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross|
|76||Aaron Bouplon (USA) Rocky Mounts-Izze|
|77||Patrick Bradley (USA) Philadelphia Cyclocross School|
|78||Jason Siegle (USA) SDG-Felt p/b IRT|
|79||David McNeal (USA) Birmingham Bicycle Company|
|80||Bjorn Fox (USA) Clif Bar Development Cross Team|
|81||Phil Grove (USA) Hammer Nutrition|
|82||Joshua Whitmore (USA) Globalbike Elite Team|
|83||Mitchell Trux (USA) Team Off The Couch|
|84||Jay Kwan (USA) The Team-Socalcross|
|85||Chris Johnson (USA) Continuum Cycles|
|86||Spencer Haugh (USA) Behind Bars-LGR|
|87||Bill Marshall (USA) KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires|
|88||JP Partland (USA) Kissena Cycling Club|
|89||Rocco Calgiano (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|