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Pim Ronhaar took his first elite World Cup victory in Dendermonde
Cyclo-cross World Cup: Pim Ronhaar takes first elite World Cup victory in Dendermonde
Dutchman leads a Baloise Trek Lions one-two finish ahead of teammate Lars van der Haar, with Laurens Sweeck in third
Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) claimed his first ever elite UCI World Cup win in style with a dominant victory in the third round in Dendermonde.
Teammate and fellow youngster Thibau Nys has stolen many of the headlines this season, having also taken his first pro win in the first round, but it was Ronhaar who shone in his teammate's absence as he mastered the Dendermonde mud.
Having broken away midway through the race, the Dutchman comfortably held the chasers at bay to win by 16 seconds.
“A lot, especially after the Koppenbergcross, I was on five minutes and I felt so, so bad,” Ronhaar said after the race, reflecting on what the victory meant. “I had three days to fix my mental health before the Europeans and it was a really good race. The first three or four laps here, Eric [Braes] said to do nothing and stay for the last part, and I did and I felt so strong.”
Lars van der Haar won the scrap for second to make it a Baloise Trek Lions one-two finish, beating Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon) after escaping on the final lap.
Pim Ronhaar dominates in Dendermonde mud
As is always the case at UCI World Cup races, a stacked field took to the startline in Dendermonde, with one notable absentee in the form of Thibau Nys. The Baloise Trek Lions rider, who won the opening round in Waterloo, chose to skip the race despite starting in the Superprestige series in Niel on Saturday. That drew the ire of UCI president David Lappartient who threatened riders with exclusion for the World Championships for missing World Cup races.
That pre-race drama carried over into the race as multiple riders were taken out of contention for the win by the first corner. Cameron Mason (Cyclocross Reds), runner up at the recent European Championships, was forced to run to the first pit after suffering a broken front wheel, while Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) found himself at the back of the pack after unclipping from his pedals.
Having avoided the early chaos, those at the front of the race calmed things down, leading to a fairly steady first lap, until Toon Vandebosch (Crelan-Corendon) unleashed an attack.
Still searching for his first elite win, the 24-year-old Belgian built a healthy lead before teammate Laurens Sweeck and Pim Ronhaar bridged across on the fourth lap. On paper, that placed Crelan-Corendon in a strong position, but Ronhaar had other ideas, defying his numerical disadvantage to power into a solo lead.
Clearly comfortable on the muddy Dendermonde course, which featured more rideable sections than previous years, Ronhaar was at ease as he strung the lead out to above 30 seconds with only two laps remaining.
The chase of the Crelan-Corendon duo behind was hampered by Lars van der Haar who bridged across and three soon became two as Vandebosch faded following his fast start to the race. That paved the way for Ronhaar to cruise to the win as he delivered his biggest career victory to date.
Following his teammate across the line, Van der Haar escaped on the final lap to finish second ahead of Sweeck.
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VAN DER HAAR Lars
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