DUTCH champion Lars van der Haar won his first World Cup race for nearly two years with an impressive mid-race attack, in the second round of the series, in Maasmechelen, Belgium. The Dutchman proved the strongest on the first big double-header weekend of the season after being narrowly beaten by Eli Iserbyt in a thrilling Superprestige race in Ruddervoorde 24 hours earlier.
"Winning is not easy," Van der Haar told reporters, "There are some really good guys, some young guys, and today I really benefited from my team mates."
Before the arrival of Van der Poel, Van Aert and Pidcock, this season looks set to continue to be a tactical battle between the two top teams - Trek-Baloise and Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal - with riders like Laurens Sweeck waiting for the occasional opportunity.
Women's world champion Fem van Empel continued her unbeaten season winning her second World Cup round and fifth victory in total. She told reporters that she expects a hard battle, from the likes of runner-up Ceylin Alvarado, in next weekend's European Championship where she is the defending champion.
"I feel better than twelve months ago, stronger, but there is also the Koppenbergcross first (on Wednesday)," said Van Empel.
Men to follow soon.
The World Cup resumes in Dendermonde, Belgium on 12th November.
Elite women - overall standings
1 Fem van Empel (NED) 80 points.
2 Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (NED) 55.
3 Inge van der Heijden (NED) 37.
Elite men - overall standings
1 Lars van der Haar (NED) 61 points.
2 Eli Iserbyt (BEL) 60.
3 Thibau Nys (BEL) 59.