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Lars van der Haar stuns with European Cyclo-cross championship victory

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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Lars Van Der Haar of Netherlands celebrates winning during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) takes the win in the European championships (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Lars Van Der Haar of Netherlands celebrates winning during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) takes the win in the European championships (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Lars Van Der Haar of Netherlands during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Lars Van Der Haar of Netherlands competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) rides to victory in the European Championships on the VAM-berg (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Lars Van Der Haar of Netherlands competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) rides to victory in the European Championships on the VAM-berg (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Toon Aerts of Belgium competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Toon Aerts (Belgium) in the early lead (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Joshua Dubau of France competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Joshua Dubau of France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Toon Aerts of Belgium competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Lars van der Haar fell in the opening lap but it didn't stop him from winning (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Quinten Hermans of Belgium competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Quinten Hermans (Belgium) looked set to win with three to go (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Eli Iserbyt of Belgium competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) was not able to defend his title (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 Eli Iserbyt of Belgium competes during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) was not able to defend his title (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 A general view of Michael Vanthourenhout of Belgium and riders compete while fans cheer during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

The opening laps dominated by the Belgians (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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COL DU VAM DRENTHE NETHERLANDS NOVEMBER 07 A general view of Quinten Hermans of Belgium competes while fans cheer during the 19th UEC European Cyclocross Championships 2021 Mens Elite EuroCross21 UECcycling on November 07 2021 in Col du Vam Drenthe Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Quinten Hermans leads through the thick mud (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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2021 UEC Cyclocross European Championships Col du Vam Drenthe Men Elite 07112021 Lars Van Der Haar NED photo Davy RietbergenCVBettiniPhoto2021

Lars van der Haar wins (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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2021 UEC Cyclo-cross European Championships - Col du Vam - Drenthe - Men Elite - 07/11/2021 - Quinten Hermans (BEL) - Lars Van Der Haar (NED) - Michael Vanthourenhout (BEL) - photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021

The elite men's podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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2021 UEC Cyclocross European Championships Col du Vam Drenthe Men Elite 07112021 Lars Van Der Haar NED photo Anton VosCVBettiniPhoto2021

Lars van der Haar with the gold medal (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) broke Belgian hearts and brought home the European elite men’s title for the host nation.

Quinten Hermans (Belgium) had made a mid-race attack which dispatched his fellow countrymen on the gruelling Col du Vam climb.

However, cheered on by a home crowd, Van der Haar used his experience to peg back his rival with two laps remaining before going straight past and riding away to a second elite European crown.

The 30-year-old had time to celebrate a popular victory for hosts the Netherlands and his first cyclo-cross win in over two years.

Hermans had to settle for second, ahead of four fellow Belgium riders, with Michael Vanthourenhout in third ahead of Toon Aerts.

Defending champion Eli Iserbyt had a day to forget and was distanced from the leading group before the midway point eventually finishing over three minutes behind in 12th.

Van der Haar said a bike change before Hermans made his attack made for a hard chase back to the front of the race.

“I felt I was really good but as soon I was in second position the Belgians were already looking at me,” said Van der Haar.

“I had to make a plan so I thought if I changed bikes I would be in the middle of the group but I lost a little bit too much places that I didn’t expect.

“After that, it was just a constant chase for me but it did make the race really hard and that was to my advantage.

“It was a little bit planned but not to be that far back I wanted to be more in front. I lost a little bit too much time with the bike change but I had to try and play it smart with so many Belgians.

“I felt I was really good but in the end, I didn’t know if I would get Quinten (Hermans) back. I knew it was a long and hard race so I had to keep trying.”

How it unfolded

Due to the championships being split with the under-23 and elite riders in separate events just 29 men took to the start in Drenthe.

The man-made mountain and cycling venue was created three years ago after previously being an old rubbish tip.

The asphalt Col du Vam has an average gradient of 10 per cent with a cobbled section at 15 per cent towards the top which competitors faced from the start.

Quinten Hermans led on the cobbles and into the downhill muddy section. The importance of a fast start was highlighted when Michael Boros (Czech Republic) crashed in the mud and held up several other riders.

Swiss rider Kevin Kuhn, Toon Vandebosch (Belgium) and Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands) were impacted most by the first lap crash and lost valuable time.

Hermans led the opening lap and a string of six Belgian riders before Toon Aerts powered up the climb taking the lead and stringing out the field.

Daan Soete (Belgium) was the next rider to slip on a muddy corner but held his place in the leading group.

French rider Joshua Dubau and Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) also made the leading group with the Dutch rider also suffering a mishap in the mud.

Aerts attacked on the uphill asphalt section but was chased down by reigning champion and fellow Belgium Eli Iserbyt.

Hermans launched a counterattack which again Iserbyt responded to, but the pace pulled four Belgium riders clear with Dubau dropping back to the second group.

Van der Haar was not allowing the Belgian domination and closed back to the leading group with Hermans setting the pace ahead of countrymen Aerts, Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout.

The timing of bike changes was also becoming important as Vanthourenhout attacked when Iserbyt and Van der Haar took new bikes leaving the reigning champion distanced by seven seconds.

With Iserbyt unable to close the gap, Van der Haar attacked on the cobbled climb and went in pursuit of the leading trio alone.

Hermans was the next to make his move at the mid-way point and Vanthourenhout pulled Aerts back to the leader.

With each of the three leading Belgian riders riding for different trade teams, it was a true showdown between the trio while Van der Haar sat 13 seconds back.

On the fifth time up the asphalt part of the Col du Vam climb, Hermans powered clear of his two companions pulling out a gap of 14 seconds while Van der Haar closed to Aerts and Vanthourenhout in the medals fight.

Van der Haar sensed Aerts was in trouble distancing the Belgian and leaving himself chasing with Vanthourenhout.

The gruelling nature of the course and pace was favouring Van der Haar who, posting the fastest lap of the race, was too strong for Vanthourenhout and was just eight seconds behind the leader with four laps remaining.

Cheered on by the home Dutch crowd, Van der Haar was pushing his limits on the technical course and gradually pulling back leader Hermans.

The battle for the final podium place was equally as interesting with Aerts recovering from his early effort and closing on fellow Belgian Vanthourenhout with three laps remaining.

On the eighth time up the Col du Vam, Van der Haar powered up the climb and pulled back the slender gap to Hermans with two laps remaining.

Sensing a weakness in his rival, Van der Haar went straight to the front on the slippery descent and forced his Belgian rival onto the back foot, opening a gap of seven seconds.

Also finishing strongly in the medal fight was Vanthourenhout who was just 21 seconds behind Van der Haar. 

Taking the bell Van der Haar had an 11-second gap over Hermans with Vanthourenhout 32 seconds back from the leader.

The Dutch rider had time to celebrate his first victory in two years finishing 25 seconds clear of Hermans with Vanthourenhout taking third 54 seconds behind.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) 1:01:44
2Quinten Hermans (Belgium) 0:00:25
3Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) 0:00:54
4Toon Aerts (Belgium) 0:01:34
5Laurens Sweeck (Belgium) 0:01:52
6Jens Adams (Belgium) 0:02:07
7Joshua Dubau (France) 0:02:50
8Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands) 0:02:58
9Jakob Dorigoni (Italy) 0:03:00
10Daan Soete (Belgium) 0:03:05
11Toon Vandebosch (Belgium) 0:03:33
12Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) 0:03:36
13David Menut (France) 0:03:50
14Kevin Kuhn (Switzerland) 0:04:17
15Marcel Meisen (Germany) 0:04:30
16Gilles Mottiez (Switzerland) 0:04:53
17Felipe Orts Lloret (Spain) 0:05:16
18Timon Rüegg (Switzerland) 0:05:54
19Gioele Bertolini (Italy)
20Stan Godrie (Netherlands)
21Michael Boroš (Czech Republic)
22Šimon Vanícek (Czech Republic)
23Florian Anderle (Germany)
24Eric Lüthi (Switzerland)
25Florian Hamm (Germany)
26David Eriksson (Sweden)
DNFCorne van Kessel (Netherlands)
DNFThomas Mein (Great Britain)
DNFIvan Feijoo Alberte (Spain)
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