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Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) and Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Giant) won their respective World Cup openers in Valkenburg on Sunday.
Van der Haar got away on the third lap of the men’s race and stayed gone as the tough course and a series of crashes and mechanicals afflicted the chase. Chief among the victims was world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL), who survived at least two mishaps only to be sidelined at last by what appeared to be a broken chain.
Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) bounced back from technical troubles of his own to take second at 20 seconds, with Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) third at 39 seconds.
American Jonathan Page (Fuji-Spy) finished 30th at 4:49.
“This is one of the most special wins in my life,” said van der Haar. “It’s my first big pro win. And in Holland, it’s amazing. Of course, I hoped to podium. But winning, that’s not something you know in advance. In cyclocross, anything can happen.”
Van der Haar thus becomes the first leader of the 2013-14 World Cup series with 80 points. Pauwels sits second with 70 and Walsleben third with 65.
In women’s racing, Vos dominated, finishing 1:35 ahead of defending World Cup champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) third at 1:52.
“It was hard. I crossed the finish and had to sit down for a couple of minutes because it was so hard,” said Vos. “When I did the pre-ride and looked at the course, I knew there was nowhere you could take it easy. All around it’s hard.
“But it was fun, it was great. But there was no recovery time. I was happy I was in the lead so I could race my own race and make my own rhythm and keep it so that I didn’t have to push it over the limit.”
As for Compton, she said: “To get second today, I’m actually really surprised and really glad, because it was just super hard. It was just brutal today. So I’m just glad I could focus on just riding well, being smooth. I had a good start, slotted into fourth, and then I just tried to time trial it really because it’s such a hard course.
“I just wanted to try to race as hard as I could, I’ve got to kind of race into shape and that’s hard. Nikki is riding well and I knew she was right there and if I made a mistake she was going to pounce, so I just tried to keep it smooth and did everything I could.”
Vos leads the overall standings with 60 points to 50 for Compton and 45 for Harris.
Round two of the series will be October 26 in Tabor.