Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) continued his domination of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup riding away from his rivals to win alone in Tabor.
The fast course resulted in a large leading group gathered at the front until the midway point, despite attacks by Iserbyt and his Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammates.
Iserbyt eventually escaped the leading group with 15 minutes of racing remaining and built a winning margin.
Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) left his effort until the last lap-and-a-half before launching a blistering attack from a fading chasing group to take second.
Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) had attacked earlier in the race with teammate Iserbyt forcing Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) to do all the chasing.
Sweeck paid for his efforts and was left without a podium position after Vanthourenhout also dropped him on the final lap.
Iserbyt had time to celebrate his victory finishing five seconds ahead of van der Haar while Vanthourenhout capped a brilliant team performance by taking third.
It was the first time Iserbyt had won at Tabor during his career after finishing runner-up in the Czech Republic on three occasions as an elite.
“I’m very happy but very tired. I had to dig really deep, the jetlag was still there (returning from America) so I had to push myself a little bit in the first half of the race to be at the front because it was definitely a hard race for us," Iserbyt said.
“It feels good to win here, this was a little bit of my black horse and I’m happy I could conquer it today. We are already looking forward to next weekend and three hard races before the European Championships.”
Van der Haar won the World Cup round in Tabor last season and admitted waiting ‘too long’ to launch his attack for second which fell short of bridging across to winner Iserbyt.
“I waited a little too long and Eli was a bit too strong,” added van der Haar.
“Fair enough, he wins, I tried and I couldn’t close the gap so he was the best today. I was more focused on the last three laps today and I didn’t really mind the race coming back (together) today.”
It was another fine day for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal with Iserbyt winning and Vanthourenhout taking third.
“It was very tactical, me and Eli, everybody looks at us so it was difficult,” added Vanthourenhout.
“I think we did a good job, Eli won and I was third so today was a good day for us.”
Czech Republic rider Zdenek Stybar (QuickStep-Aphavinyl) was cheered by his home fans throughout the race but had to battle from a fourth-row start eventually celebrating a 17th-place finish.
The World Cup continues in Maasmechelen next Sunday for round four of the 14-race series.
How it unfolded
Iserbyt returned from the opening two American World Cup rounds with a perfect record after winning both races.
However, he was pushed all the way by former teammate Laurens Sweeck in Fayetteville last weekend only edging him out during a sprint finish.
Vanthourenhout also finished on the podium at Fayetteville and was quickest away on the asphalt start in Tabor taking the lead on the opening lap.
Taking part in his first World Cup event of the season Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) had an opening lap to forget hitting the hurdles and crashing.
The fast and dry nature of the course led to no splits on the opening lap as the whole field remained together in one line.
After impressing during the two opening World Cup rounds Sweeck jumped the uphill hurdles and attacked but was closely marked by series leader Iserbyt.
Recovering from his earlier crash, Kamp also attacked but his move was closely monitored by former teammate Sweeck as the leading group consisted of 23 riders.
The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal team was looking to control the race and Iserbyt was next to attack finally splitting the field with Sweeck again making his move.
Vanthourenhout was the next Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider to attack and this time had a gap as Sweeck initially refused to chase and Iserbyt allowed his team-mate a gap.
The blistering attack also reduced the chasing group with Sweeck chasing with Iserbyt, Quinten Hermans (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) and European Champion van der Haar.
After half a lap of chasing, Sweeck bridged across to Vanthourenhout and the tactical game between the rivals continued.
A large chasing group came back to the leaders after 40 minutes of racing as a tactical battle at the front had resulted in the pace easing.
With 15 riders gathered at the front Iserbyt wanted to reduce the leading group again attacking into a section of twisty corners and leaving Sweeck to chase.
The World Cup leader had more success this time maintaining a slender gap over Sweeck with Vanthourenhout and Van der Haar also pulling clear but both allowing the Belgian to do all the chasing.
Van der Haar had remained anonymous in the chasing trio until midway through the penultimate lap when he launched a powerful attack.
Taking the bell Iserbyt sat eight seconds ahead of Van der Haar while the gap to Sweeck and Vanthourenhout had grown to 22 seconds.
Iserbyt had kept enough in reserve to fend off the late charge of Dutch rider Van der Haar to take victory by five seconds.
In the battle for third, fellow Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider Vanthourenhout attacked and distanced a fading Sweeck on the final lap.
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