Six days after the opening of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Valkenburg, the best riders in the world were lucky to enjoy mild and sunny conditions in Southern Bohemia on Saturday. Lars Van Der Haar was the only one to repeat his victory a week ago. In the other categories, Czech Toupalik (under 21), Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel (under 23) and Katherine Compon (women) were the winners of the day.
Men: Van der Haar the strong man
If some doubted Lars Van der Haarâ€™s ability to take the reins and keep them in top flight, they were proved wrong by the Rabobank Develoment hopeful. In the Czech leg of the World Cup in which he finished second a year ago, the former two times under-23 world champion was simply too strong for the rest of the field. In spite of a mechanical, he outsprinted Germanyâ€™s Philipp Walsleben (BKCP â€“ Powerplus) while Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb â€“ Napoleon Games), the winner last year in Tabor, finished third 11 seconds adrift.
Â«Iâ€™m lost for words. Itâ€™s unbelievable. Iâ€™m in the shape of my life and I really mean to make the best of it. Philipp was really strong and my only chance was to attack. I had never sprinted against him, now I know I can do it, Â» he said.
Overall: Van der Haar of courseâ€¦
Two legs and two wins â€“ Van der Haar is a clear overall leader. Before Koksijde a month away, he holds160 points while Philipp Walsleben and Kewin Pauwels are tied on 135 points. The season has only just started but the promising rider from the Netherlands already has a serous edge.
Women: Compton under pressure
She was the woman to beat. After the withdrawal of Marianne Vos, Katherine Compton was the clear favourite for the second leg of the UCIWorld Cup. But the American had never really been comfortable with the Tabor course. It is perhaps why the Trek Cyclocross Collective rider took the reins early to lead from start to finish. Behind her, Young Telenet Idea team-mates Nikki Harris of Britain and Pavla Havlikova, the local favourite, tried to react. In vain. A mechanical towards the end of the course nearly broke Comptonâ€™s hopes. Havlikova and Harris came very close to catching the runaway leader but were finally forced to concede defeat. It was Comptonâ€™s 15th World Cup win, at 34. On the line, Harris was second, 6 seconds behind with Havlikova third a further second adrift for the first podium in her career.
Overall: Comptonâ€™s clearly ambitious
Â« I want to win the World Cup again Â». Katherine Compton made her ambitions clear. Winner of the international circuit a year ago, the rider from Colorado is eager to retain her crown. She claimed back her leaderâ€™s jersey on 110 points, ahead of Harris on 95 and Havlikova on 75.
Under 23: Van der Poel is ready
Third a week ago in Valkenburg for his debut in the category, Mathieu Van der Poel wasted no time in winning his first race in the under-23 category. The son of 1996 world champion Adrie beat the Belgian pair of Gianni Vermeersch and Wout Van Aert by three and 17 seconds respectively. At just 18, Van der poel, who is also the grandson of Raymond Poulidor, is already worthy of his elders.
Overall: Van der Poel in the lead
The Dutchman is the first rider since Niels Albert in 2004 to win an under-23 World Cup race in his first season. Van der Poel did even better than the Belgian legend by snatching the overall leaderâ€™s jersey. Winner in the junior ranks last season, he was quick to claim back a top spot. After two races he stands on 101 points, ahead of Van Aert on 95 and Vermeersch on 80.
Under 21: Home win for Toupalik
Only 20th a week ago in Valkenburg, Czech Adam Toupalik made the best of the home advantage to be crowned on the Tabor circuit. The Czech champion, third in the worlds in Louisville last season, won with a 10 seconds lead over Belgian Eli Iserbyt and 15 seconds over Dutchman Joris Nieuwenhuis. Winner in the Netherlands a week ago, Franceâ€™s Lucas Dubau finished 8th, 32 seconds off the pace.
Overall: Consistency rewards Iserbyt
Fourth in Valkenburg and second in Tabor, Eli Iserbyt will hold the World Cup leaderâ€™s jersey in the next leg in November in the sandy dunes of Koksijde. On 90 points, he leads Lucas Dubau by four points while Adam Toupalik is now third on 71.
Next leg of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup on November 23 in Koksijde (Belgium). The races are broadcast live on youtube.com/ucichannel