British cyclo-cross champion, Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea), finished fourth at the fifth round of the 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Zolder, ending her run of podium finishes.
Harris, who is enjoying her most successful season in the elite tier of ‘cross racing, finished behind the winner, Katie Compton (Trek), who saw off the challenge of second-placed Marianne Vos (Rabobank), the reigning world champion and widely regarded as the world’s best cyclist.
Harris was denied a place on the podium by the Belgian champion, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), who finished more than half-a-minute ahead of the Derbyshire rider.
In a post-race Tweet, Harris expressed her frustration at a poor start which she said hampered a race she had entered in her best form.
“Probably the best legs I’ve had all season and totally messed up the start, chased all the way to end with 4th #upsanddowns.”
European champion, Helen Wyman (Kona), suffered more frustration after finishing tenth.
Wyman, who has won the British title seven times, has scored major successes this season outside of the World Cup, but has struggled to reproduce her best form in the UCI event and today finished some 2.25 behind Compton.
More significantly for the American rider, the defending champion, was a second straight victory over Vos. Compton won by a margin of 40 seconds over Vos less than a week ago at Namur, and the American powered to victory today, despite making a poor start.
Vos and Cant had a lead of nearly 20 seconds over Compton at the end of the first lap. Two laps later, as the riders began the third tour, the American had made contact thanks to a determined comeback.
Compton drove clear of the pair, and after initially biding her time, Vos responded, dropping Cant to ride across the gap, forming an impressive pairing of World Cup holder and reigning world champion.
Compton, however, proved too strong for Vos, an astonishing achievement given the Dutchwoman’s dominance of almost every discipline she chooses to enter (Vos is also the reigning world and Olympic road race champion).
The American started the final lap with a 13-second lead over Vos, and gained a further seven seconds to win by a convincing 20-second margin. Cant finished third, some 57-seconds down on Compton.
Harris finally broke clear of the tenacious Lucie Chainel (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) and Sabrina Stultiens (Rabobank Liv/Giant) on the final lap and cross the line alone, nearly a minute-and-a-half after Compton.
The men’s race saw Laars Van Der Haar (Rabobank) continue his incredible season with a second UCI World Cup victory that saw him strengthen his lead at the top of the overall standings after five rounds.
The 22-year-old Dutchman, who will race on the road next season with the development team of UCI WorldTour giants, Argos-Shimano, gained a third victory of this season’s cross world cup campaign, but this time by the narrowest of margins.
Van Der Haar finished just one second ahead of the Czech rider, Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah), who held off the challenge of former two-time ‘cross world champion, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Stybar, who races on the road alongside Mark Cavendish in the Belgian super team, and who claimed overall victory in this season’s Eneco Tour, as well as a debut Grand Tour stage win at the Vuelta a Espana, will contest just four more ‘cross races this season.
Speaking before the race, he said: “The level of cyclocross is very high, and there are very strong riders. The goal is to race as good as possible and give everything — out of respect for the races, the organizers and the fans. It will be fun to participate in these races.”
British champion, Ian Field (Hargroves-Specialized), the only British man racing in the elite tier of cyclo-cross, finished in 33rd position, some 3.15 behind Van Der Haar.
The riders will now enjoy a 10-day break before the penultimate round of this season’s ‘cross World Cup, which takes place in Rome, on Sunday January 5, 2014.
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup 2013/14: round five – Zolder
1) Lars van der Haar (NED) – Rabobank – 1.02.41
2) Martin Bina (CZE) – Kwadro-Stannah +1″
3) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +2″
4) Philipp Walsleben (GER) – BKCP-Powerplus +3″
5) Rob Peeters (BEL) – Telenet-Fidea +4″
6) Sven Nys (BEL) – Crelan-KDL – ST
7) Klaas Vantornout (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoleon Games +5″
8) Kevin Pauwels (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoleon Games +7″
9) Thijs van Amerongen (NED) – AA Drink +10″
10) Bart Aernouts (BEL) – AA Drink +12″
1) Katie Compton (USA) – Trek – 38.42
2) Marianne Vos (NED) – Rabobank +20″
3) Sanne Cant (BEL) – Enertherm-BCKP +57″
4) Nikki Harris (GBR) – Young Telenet Fidea +1.29
5) Lucie Chainel (FRA) – BH-SR Suntour-KMC _1.31
6) Sabrina Stultiens (NED) – Rabobank +1.38
7) Ellen Van Loy (BEL) – DNCS-Pro 2012 +1.57
8) Sophie de Boer (NED) – Young Telenet Fidea +2.14
9) Annefleur Kalvenhaar (NED) – Giant – ST
10) Helen Wyman (GBR) – Kona +2.25