Giant-Alpecin cyclo-cross star Lars van der Haar is currently racing in his last road event of the season at the six-day Tour of Alberta before heading south to kick off the 2015-16 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup calendar at CrossVegas in Nevada on September 16.
"My goals here in Alberta, mostly, are to get the last bits ready for Vegas, to gain some form and see where I’m standing," Van der Haar told Cyclingnews at the start of the second stage in the County of Grande Prairie.
"I don’t really have a big goal to do well here in the GC but there may be a chance for me to do a good result in a stage. I would also like to try to be in a breakaway for a day, just to try and test my engine a little bit."
Van der Haar officially joined Giant-Alpecin’s WorldTour team at the start of this season, after racing for the team’s development squad the previous year. He has enjoyed the change of racing at the top level at races like Scheldeprijs, Bayern Rundfahrt, World Ports Classic, Tour de Luxembourg, Ster ZLM, Clasica San Sebatian and the Arctic Race of Norway before heading overseas to Alberta.
"I’ve always done road cycling, but the big difference this year is that I was doing all races that I have never done before, and at a bit of a higher level. I really liked it. I’m on a team that has a big goal at every race and to be a part of that has been really nice."
Now that Van der Haar’s road racing obligations are winding down for the year, he is turning his attention to cyclo-cross, and specifically, a victory in two weeks time at CrossVegas, a race held on a thick-grass field at the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex.
"Of course I’m going to go for the points but I’m also going to go there to win," Van der Haar said. "It’s a race that can suit me, but I’m also a guy that cannot put too much energy into that type of course because it is really, really tough. It’s like riding on 10 layers of carpet there, very difficult. I think the younger guys like Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel [the current cyclo-cross World Champion] will be the engines there."
Van der Haar has competed in CrossVegas on four previous occasions. Last year he was second to Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drinks), and he won the event in 2011 as the under-23 world champion. In June, race organisers announced that the event had been added to the World Cup calendar for the first time this year.
"I’ve done CrossVegas four times before and now that it is a World Cup there is a chance that everyone is going to come over, maybe not everyone, but definitely the top European riders will come over," Van der Haar said. "I’m curious about what that is going to do to the race because normally it has been one big peloton and then full gas on the last two laps.
"I don’t think everyone will be in top form. If riders are in top shape now they are going to have problems in January. I think everyone will be on equally the same level of training and thinking the same way about it, but it will still be very hard."
Following CrossVegas, Van der Haar will focus on the rest of the World Cup events and the Superprestige series, but his biggest goal will be to win the world title in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.
The World Cup calendar will start in CrossVegas on September 16 and move to Valkenburg on October 18, Koksijde on November 22, Namur on December 20, Heusden-Zolder on December 26, Lignieres-en-Berry on January 17 and conclude in Hoogerheide on January 24. The World Championships will be held in Heusden-Zolder on January 30 and 31.