DUTCH champion Lars van der Haar scored his first UCI win of the new season on home soil in 's-Hertogenbosch on Saturday ahead of a big pack of riders sprinting it out for the other two podium places.
For some of the top 'crossers it was a 'warm-up' race, albeit in wet and muddy conditions, before Sunday's Trofee race in Ronse and most of the younger riders, like Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel played it sensibly and sat it out until Sunday. An exciting race ensued nonetheless.
Sven Nys rolled over the line in fifth place content to let the others sprint it out. Former American champion Jonathan Page, racing in Europe for the first time this season, finished 26th.
The women's race was won by Helen Wyman who had returned to Belgium in the week after taking three victories in America in the last month. Sophie de Boer and Nikki Harris completed the women's podium.
The Grote Prijs van Brabant is a new race (this was the second edition), but the UCI C2-ranked event in 's-Hertogenbosch (more commonly known as Den Bosch) already has a high profile and the ability to attract the top riders.
The organisers of the race have expressed interest in hosting a round of the World Cup in Den Bosch and the course is understood to have been inspected by UCI officials. This season the UCI World Cup will run with only six races after Roubaix announced that they could not go ahead and a replacement venue was not put forward.
With the current crop of top Dutch 'crossers, like Van der Haar, Marianne Vos and the Van der Poel brothers, it would make sense to raise the profile of another race in the Netherlands.
Elite men: 1 Lars van der Haar (NED); 2 Corne van Kessel (NED); 3 Jim Aernouts (BEL); 4 Kevin Pauwels (BEL); 5 Sven Nys (BEL).
Elite women: 1 Helen Wyman (GBR); 2 Sophie de Boer (NED); 3 Nikki Harris (GBR).
Special thanks to Roderic Kreunen for making this film and sharing it.
Main photo: Lars van der Haar on the start line at Ronse ©kramon/cyclocrossrider.com