After winning two consecutive under-23 Cyclo-cross World Championships, 21-year old Lars van der Haar of the Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team decided to move up to the elite rank even thought he still had one more year as an espoir rider. The 21-year old rider simply would not have been satisfied finishing less than on the top step again at the upcoming World Championships.
Not returning as the under-23 world champion means that van der Haar now has to make the Dutch National Team to race at the 2013 World Championships in Louisville - which he plans to do.
“Well, my last race I was top 10 already so my goal is I think first, I have to be top 8 in a World Cup for our national team to come there.” said van der Haar, who finished eighth at the GP Mario De Clercq, the opening race of the Bpost Bank Trofee series.
The requirements set out by the Dutch Federation for making the worlds national team is clear. “The bar is pretty high to go because we don't have any funds of the NOC anymore.” he continued. “So I'm going to try that first and then my goal is going to be top 15, top 10 in the world championships, I think.”
For the third year in a row, van der Haar made the long journey to Las Vegas to race at CrossVegas in September, a race he won in 2011. He was pleasantly surprised by the knowledgeable fans. “I thought that there would be more people there that didn't have a clue of what cyclo-cross was, or cycling, but there were so many people who knew what it was. This year, I was riding with a new helmet air attack, and you could just hear the people constantly shouting air attack, air attack. So they knew what they were talking about because at first, I didn't even know the name of the helmet and they already knew it! So that was pretty cool.”
“The courses are a bit different than Europe, it's a bit less technical. It's more speed and then artificial barriers.” he said of the CrossVegas course which he was told is very different to other American courses.
“I've heard from Bart Wellens last year that the other courses he did were way harder than Vegas and that you couldn't really compare them to it. It was way muddier, more technical but still a lot was a wide course, which in Europe is not that much, it's sometimes really narrow. What he said was really nice courses there which I didn't do so I don't know.” he laughed.
For the first time in the history of the sport, the Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held outside Europe. Can the American racers take advantage of racing at home?
“I think they can definitely surprise in Louisville. I think in Europe it's a bit different for them and a bit harder to adapt, and they have their jetlag and stuff. I think when we come there it's going to be way different. Especially I think they can do a lot if they are in their own country, with their own fans and for them I think it's going to be more exciting that it is for us with the big journey.”
In conclusion, we asked van der Haar what he would say to American and European cyclo-cross fans coming to the Worlds.
“Don't fight, have fun and enjoy it. American and Belgians can be really the same a bit about idolizing persons and stuff, I think they will find each other pretty nice. But just one thing is that Belgians are not the best English speaker sometimes so we will see how that goes. I think that the Americans will like it a lot.” van der Haar concluded.
Tickets for the 2013 UCI World Elite Cyclo-cross Championships powered by Exergy can be purchased online at www.louisville2013.com.