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.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)||1:01:44|
|2||Quinten Hermans (Belgium)||0:00:25|
|3||Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||0:00:54|
|4||Toon Aerts (Belgium)||0:01:34|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Belgium)||0:01:52|
|6||Jens Adams (Belgium)||0:02:07|
|7||Joshua Dubau (France)||0:02:50|
|8||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands)||0:02:58|
|9||Jakob Dorigoni (Italy)||0:03:00|
|10||Daan Soete (Belgium)||0:03:05|
|11||Toon Vandebosch (Belgium)||0:03:33|
|12||Eli Iserbyt (Belgium)||0:03:36|
|13||David Menut (France)||0:03:50|
|14||Kevin Kuhn (Switzerland)||0:04:17|
|15||Marcel Meisen (Germany)||0:04:30|
|16||Gilles Mottiez (Switzerland)||0:04:53|
|17||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spain)||0:05:16|
|18||Timon Rüegg (Switzerland)||0:05:54|
|19||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)|
|20||Stan Godrie (Netherlands)|
|21||Michael Boroš (Czech Republic)|
|22||Šimon Vanícek (Czech Republic)|
|23||Florian Anderle (Germany)|
|24||Eric Lüthi (Switzerland)|
|25||Florian Hamm (Germany)|
|26||David Eriksson (Sweden)|
|DNF||Corne van Kessel (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Thomas Mein (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Ivan Feijoo Alberte (Spain)|
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Latest on Cyclingnews
Van Aert: Next year I really want to go for the Tour de France green jerseyBelgian set to combine work for team and own ambitions next July
Get an aero carbon wheelset with free GP5000s and tubes for under £800Save 35% off the price of a Fulcrum Wind 40 DB HG carbon wheelset with Continental GP5000 tyres and inner tubes at Tredz
Nike Black Friday deal drops the price of SuperRep Cycle shoes by up to 40%Save on some of the best indoor cycling shoes in Nike's site-wide Black Friday cycling deals
Silke Smulders steps up to Women's WorldTeam with Liv RacingTeam adds Xstra as co-title sponsor in 2022
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.