Van der Haar won by inches in a photo finish. Jake Orness photo.

Van der Haar Wins Vegas Cross Opener!

15 septiembre 2011

Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team rider Lars van der Haar kicked off his cyclocross season in spectacular form, winning the under-the-lights CrossVegas event in Las Vegas Wednesday night. The U.S. event, held in conjunction with the Interbike bicycle trade show, was the first C1 cyclocross event of the 2011-2012 season.

Van der Haar, the current Under-23 World Champion from The Netherlands, and his Belgian teammate Bart Aernouts rode a tactical race in front of a large crowd gathered at the Desert Breeze park, just a few miles from the Las Vegas strip. Riding under the lights on their Giant TCX Advanced SL bikes, van der Haar and Aernouts worked together to control the race and snuff out attacks from the lead group of 10 that established itself early in the race.

The lead group included two-time World Champion Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters from the Telenet-Fidea team, three riders from Cannondale p/b-Cyclocrossworld and former U.S. champion Ryan Trebon.

In the end, it came down to a thrilling sprint finish. Aernouts helped set up his younger teammate, and van der Haar outkicked Swiss rider Christian Heule and Peeters, who finished second and third respectively, in a photo finish.

“It was amazing,” van der Haar said. “I could not see the line so I wasn’t sure I won.”

Aernouts finished sixth.

In the women’s race, Kelli Emmett of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team finished third. The American, who focuses mainly on mountain bike racing, battled back from deep in the field to score her best-ever finish at CrossVegas, which she has raced every year since its debut in 2007.