Lars van der Haar has taken Development Team Giant-Shimano’s first win on the opening stage of the three-day Oberösterreichrundfahrt in Austria. Lars finished off a strong display from the whole team where they took control of the race before setting up a sprint finish for Lars who dutifully finished off the job in style.
The day started with a small break of three riders who gained a maximum of nine minutes. Behind there was a slight reluctance as to who would chase but when the gap hit nine minutes the chase started behind to bring the gap down.
The Development riders joined the chase after the hilly part of the stage was out the way, and Jan Brockhoff, Robert Pölder and Fredrik Ludvigsson joined the pursuit at the front of the peloton.
These riders helped to bring the gap down from six to two minutes on the final four finishing circuits and despite a valiant solo attempt out front the race eventually came back together with eight kilometres left to race.
On the run in the riders set up their sprint formation with Lars sitting at the end of the line and Kristian Haugaard and Max Schachmann brought Lars through to the finish where he proved fastest to the line to take a huge win for the Development Team.
A relieved Dirk Reuling, Development Team Giant-Shimano coach said after the stage: “It is such a good feeling for the team to finally get a win, they are all really happy with this. Lars has been pretty focused since last week on this race, saying that he wanted to focus on it so we made a plan to ride for him today.
“He is one of the riders in the race who can sprint as well as climb and so the stage suited him well. The whole team did a great job today and everyone played their part in the win. The teamwork has really come on over the past few months and the proof could be seen today.
“Jan, Robert and Fredrik did a great job in chasing and then Kristian and Max took over later on to lead-out Lars. It was a real team effort and it will be a huge boost to their confidence. Now tomorrow we have another test of teamwork in defending the overall lead and this will be a great learning experience for all the guys here.”
After the stage, clad in the leader’s jersey Lars said: “It’s great to finally get the win. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be good for the stage today as my legs blocked up a bit during the stage, but they eventually came round and the team did an awesome job in getting me through to the finish in position.
“We got a bit nervous when the three leaders got nine minutes and started to help chasing. It then started to rain and there were a few crashes on the descents and this is where my legs turned off a bit. Thankfully as the pace went up on the finishing circuits they came back round and I told the guys that we would stick to the plan.
“Once the race was back together we were in a good position near the front as a team. Max was pulling through with about 1500m to go with Kristian between him and me. I was worried that we were going to get sandwiched in just before the final corner but when Kristian went he pulled me through and we got round the final corner in front.
“I thought that he was going to fade and it would be too early for me to hit the front but he just kept going and took me to 250m to go and from here it was up to me.
“The team has really stepped up in the past few weeks and we are working really well as a team. There are still improvements to be made and we will continue to work on these but we can take confidence from how we rode today.”
Stage 1 Result:
1 Lars van der Haar Development Team Giant-Shimano 4:21:17
2 Alex Kirsch Leopard Development Team ,,
3 Alexander Grad Team Heizomat ,,
16 Kristian Haugaard Jensen Development Team Giant-Shimano ,,
30 Maximilian Schachmann Development Team Giant-Shimano ,,
38 Fredrik Ludvigsson Development Team Giant-Shimano ,,
63 Jan Brockhoff Development Team Giant-Shimano ,,
93 Robert Pölder Development Team Giant-Shimano ,,