Lars Van der Haar | The GCN Cyclo-cross Podcast Ep.1

Lars Van der Haar | The GCN Cyclo-cross Podcast Ep.1


(upbeat electronic music) – Hello, everyone. Welcome to the GCN Cyclocross Podcast. I’m Jeremy Powers, one of
the presenters here at GCN, and you can say I’ve got
a thing for cyclocross. So I’d like to think of
this more as an adventure and less of a podcast, just ’cause podcast sounds so, well, doesn’t sound that cool anymore. An adventure sounds way more fun. Today and future shows
are going to be a mixture of different types of coverage
from around the world. So first up, we’re going to
get into some racing analysis with my pal, Marty MacDonald, who you guys have definitely heard if you’ve listened to any
of the live races on GCN. Marty is that voice. Then we’re going to have a weekly check-in with the three-time world champ, Erwin Ver(rolling tongue)vecken
from the fields of Belgium. Then we’re going to have
a sit-down for our feature with the man, Lars van den Haar. And you’re probably thinking Jeremy, that is a lot of dudes on
the show and you’d be right, but every single episode
after this for the next three are going to be with different women. We have Katerina Nash, Evie Richards, as well as Maghalie Rochette. So I’m really excited to bring
those interviews to you guys and, well, before I get into the show, I want to remind you guys
that you can hit us up on GCN on social media, on Instagram at @GlobalCyclingNetwork, on Twitter at @GCNTweet. Leave us a review, please subscribe, and let’s get into the show. Our first guest of the show is a man that needs no introduction,
my friend Marty MacDonald. Marty, thank you so much
for coming on the show. – Thanks for having me. – Marty, before we get started, I just wanted to let the fans get a second to know a little bit
more about who you are because you introduce the
racing every single weekend, but people might just
know you as the voice but they may not know anything about you. Can you please tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do? – Yeah, so I first got involved
in cycling way, way back. I was about 13 when I started. I raced the road, the track,
mountain bikes, cyclocross, when everything was in black and white. I was really lucky to get involved in TV back in the early 2000s,
commentating and presenting. My first job was out
in Trinidad and Tobago. I’ve been involved in pro cycling, managing riders such as Magnus Backstedt and in triathlon with Lisa Nordén. I’ve owned a pro team. I’ve been a sport director
with teams like Endura Racing and then in the pro women’s cycling with Pearl-Izumi and Dame Sarah
Storey’s Storey Racing Team. And then the guys here at GCN asked if I would come and commentate here, so I’ve lived a charmed
life, man, what can I say? – (chuckling) Yeah, you definitely have. I have to say, it’s not easy work being on the spot every single time. And with such an international
sport like cycling, the thing that I have to say is your pronunciation of
names is absolutely top. – Oh, thanks. I mean, we’ve worked
really, really hard at it. I’m really lucky. I’ve got my good friend Natalie, who’s my Flemish pronunciation coach, so if there’s something
and I’m struggling on, I message her and I’m like, “hey, how do you pronounce this?” But one of my colleagues, Rob Hatch, who’s a Eurosport
commentator, he’s the master. I do my best but I humbly bow to that one. But yeah, that’s kind of you, thank you. – All right, Marty, so this
is what we’re going to do in this segment. We’re going to talk just generally about what’s going on all over the world. But I want to know from you, since you’ve got your hand
on the pulse over there in the United Kingdom, what is going on with
cyclocross right now over there? – I think this weekend,
lots of local races, lots of local leads. I want to talk about Anna Kay from Experza-Footlogix first of all. Came into the barriers,
Helen Wyman had said she’d been telling her to
bunny hop them, she did. I think both of our reactions, we were just like, “Whoa, Anna Kay!” – Yeah, it was crazy. Having worked with Ellen Noble when she first jumped those barriers at Iowa,, I think it was at the World Cup, just like you said before,
on global television, these riders with that
amount of adrenaline running through their veins. And the ability on the women’s side, just not a lot of top riders being able to jump the barriers in the front group, Marty, it’s crazy. And maybe you know probably
more about Anna’s results and stuff like that. What is her story a little bit? ‘Cause, again, not a new name to me, we’ve been talking about her for seasons, but I’d love to know if you know anything about her backstory a little bit. She’s on her way up. I know she’s a young rider. I know she’s riding for Experza. Just tell us anything
that you know about her. – Yeah, Anna’s from the
Northeast of England. She was actually a footballer,
or a soccer player, as you say over there. I think it was Sunderland
Ladies that she was with. Discovered cycling, mountain biking, and then has really kind of stepped up. She was with Storey Racing when she came into the
backend of last season, then got picked up by the
Experza-Footlogix team, and she’s just taken leaps and bounds. We saw her in the British Nationals toe-to-toe with Nikki Brammeier. She then had a mechanical, so she’s the British under-23
cross champion as well. She rode super well in
the world’s as well. She’s just a real super talent. She’s a really, really fun rider as well. Whenever we say, well, she did a few course previews last year and we say, “what’s it like, Anna?” And she was like, “it’s mint.” – (chuckling) That’s perfect. Well, it was mint when she
jumped the barriers this weekend live at the first
SuperPrestige opening round, so mint to her, awesome work. Over here, I think the big thing that I want to talk about, Marty, is the world championships are coming to the United States in 2022. So not this year, but the year after, we’re going to have the
world championships. We’ve got one world champion,
another world championship, and then, boom, we’re here
back in the United States. When I say hey, we’re going to
have the world championships in Arkansas, what’s the first
thing that comes to your mind? – Hopefully, I’m going to
get an invite to come over, that’s the first thing,
but I think it’s good. I think it’s great. We’ve got to continue with the growth that we’ve got in cyclocross. I can see how big it is
over there in the US. I remember being over
there for Cross Vegas and those sort of events when
they really first started. So it’s that expectation,
it’ll be that unknown as well for a lot of European riders. I think it’ll help push the events over the next couple of years with riders maybe thinking all right, I’ve got to go and do those
early World Cups as well, get over there and test them out. It’s a good thing for the sport as well and I think it’s a good
thing for you US riders, Jonathan Page, yourself, Katie Compton. Will we get that elite
man, that world champion? – I know, I know. Yeah, things to think about. But yeah, and then the riders, I mean, it was the same
kind of host of people that I’ve been really
impressed by this year. From Canada on the Canadian side, it was Maghalie Rochette. And then, of course, here in
the US is Clara Honsinger. They both took wins at this warmup event that they have at the
world championship track down in Fayetteville. It’s the first time
they’re running a UCI race at this event. They had a race there, it went down. One day, it was dry. That’s the day Maghalie won. The next day, an absolute mud fest. I heard one of the muddiest races that anyone has ever done over there. But one other really big takeaway, Marty, was that Logan Owen, who rides for EF, eight-time national champion, shows up at the race and comes out. Features in the front
group for most of the race. Ends up fourth on Sunday. I’m not exactly sure where he finished, in the top 10 on Saturday. I have to say that this
really piqued my interest. Someone that’s really
dedicated to the road coming back over to cyclocross off of finishing the Vuelta. I guess my thought is always
that a three-week grand tour can’t be really good for
your snappiness, you know? You can’t feel like you’re
just poppin’ out of the corners if you’ve done a three-week grand tour. But we were talking about it before, we have seen some riders
come back with success. – Yeah, definitely, Lars
Boom being one of them. Again, in the past, came
off the back of the Vuelta and back into cross as
well, so it can be done. The grand tour gives you
that super compensation sometimes as well, that big, solid base. And it’s great to see Logan coming in. I love what EF are doing. They’re really pushing the boundary, in terms of their alternative program, and I think seeing someone like Logan coming back into cyclocross, I think we’re going to
see it more and more, like some Mike Teunissen,
these sort of riders coming back into cyclocross, now that their team managers are not going to be so much worried about hey, you’re going to
hurt yourself riding cross. But, y’know, you go down in the field, you kind of generally roll
over, get yourself back up. You go down in the peloton, you tend to just hope you
haven’t broken anything. So I think they’ve been
a real game changer with Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel. I think we’re going to
see more riders come in. Excited to see what Logan can do. Good luck to him. – Anything else that you want
to catch up on today, Marty? – I think that’s about it. I’m looking forward to this weekend. We’ve got the SuperPrestige
in Boom, we’ll go there. Mathieu van der Poel, Kim Van De Steene were winners last year and great going back to Switzerland. I love Switzerland. So big weekend ahead. Back into the World Cups. More SuperPrestige. I’m lovin’ it. – I’ll be talking to
you this weekend, Marty. Thank you so much for your time today. – Thanks man, have a good one. (upbeat electronic music) – Next up is my man Erwin Vervecken, the three-time world champ. I want to call this segment
Erwin Ver(rolling tongue)vecken Hat Verdecke, Vervecken because when Erwin won the
2007 world championships in Belgium, the commentator
at the end of the race said, “hat verdecke, Ver(rolling tongue)vecken,” when I think means hot damn, Vervecken, but in that nice Belgian,
West Flanders slang. So I’m excited to get into
this piece with Erwin. He has so much depth in this sport and so much knowledge
about what’s going on. Today, we talk about a
bunch of different things, from the serious races
and the women’s racing, the men’s dynamics, all
types of good stuff. I hope you like this piece. Erwin, thank you so much for joining us. – It’s a pleasure to talk to you. – So I wanted to just
get a sense of things that are going on in European cyclocross because we get so much
information about cyclocross, but it’s all translated. And I thought you know
what would be better? Let’s get a person that has so
much experience in the sport and that is from Belgium
to be able to chat and just kind of go through stuff. So this year, we have five
different series happening in Belgium, I guess in Europe outright. But there’s the Ethias
Cross, the Soudal Classics, the DVV Trophy, the SuperPrestige, and then there’s the World Cup. Tell me, what’s going on with them and if you had to rank them, I’d just be curious to know
as a rider or as a European, which ones mean the most to you and which are the most prestigious? – Well, for sure the World Cup
is still the most prestigious because there you have
the American riders. You had the two World Cups in the States. Yeah, have a much more
international feel to it. We also see riders from
Italy, from France. We don’t all come to Belgium every weekend so the World Cup is for sure, yeah, given the spread of the
events over the whole season and over different countries,
it’s the more prestigious one. And then you have two
officially-recognized ranking series by the UCI, which is the
SuperPrestige and the DVV Trophy, a very old series, it’s the oldest one. Which is the most prestigious of both? Well, hard to say. They have different courses,
different types of races. But, yeah, most of the Belgian riders and also a lot of foreigners
come here to do both. I’d say 10 years ago,
they were outstanding towards the rest of the event because they were all live on television. Nowadays in Belgium, every
race is live on television. TV stations are battling (chuckling) to have the TV rights
for Belgian cyclocross, so that’s a good thing. And the two other series
you are mentioning, Ethias Cross and Soudal Classics, but Soudal Classics will
change name this year ’cause Soudal is also a brand and it’s one of the products
they are promoting this year, so the new name will be Rectavit Series. They are not recognized by the UCI, which means that they can’t
have an official ranking. There’s no points or time ranking. They are just a series of events under the same umbrella
with the same sponsors. That’s the difference. – What about the Ethias Cross? – Yeah, Ethias Cross is the new brand, which was called Brico Cross last year. It’s a series of eight events, seven of them in Belgium, one in Holland, after the world championships in those. Last race, Sebastian Turgot, yeah, last season, beginning of this year before he jumped on his road bike. And, yeah, it’s the newest series, only exists in three years, I guess, but it combines a lot of new events with very motivated organizers. So it’s open to everybody and it’s the newest one in the row. – Let’s talk about
what’s already happened. The World Cup has kicked off the official cyclocross season, I suppose. I guess, Eli Iserbyt is the
rider from the men’s side and then on the women’s side, we really haven’t seen the
biggest riders yet come out. A lot of them didn’t
travel to the United States for the World Cup, which
will be hard to know if that will hurt them or not. But I’d be curious to know, I guess, what people are saying about
Eli’s ability to win both races and are we looking at
another very dominant rider? Obviously, he has great palmarès. He’s won a lot before. But I’d just be curious to know what people are saying about that. – Yeah, well for some reason, so the two American World Cups, they were, of course, live on
television even in prime time, because we had them in the evening, but for some reason, a
lot of the best women didn’t travel this year
towards the States, which is a pity for the sport. Me, myself, I’ve been doing a lot of trips over to the States when there
was even nothing to win, in terms of UCI points
or World Cup ranking. So I really feel sad for the organizers. I know both of them very well and I think they deserve better. But on the other hand, we’re seeing new women
winning these events and it’s now up to them
to defend their ranking and their first position in the World Cup in the upcoming weeks when the World Cup is back in Europe. So two events have been
ridden, two out of nine. If they do well, they can
probably win the World Cup because women like Sanne Cant, she just starts the season and it will be hard for her to catch up on points she lost in the
States, which she did last year. – Yeah, as well we haven’t
seen Annemarie Worst, so it will be interesting
to see how that plays out. And, yeah, I’d love to hear about what the papers are
saying about Eli Iserbyt and that dominance that he’s
had already this season. What is your take on it at least? – To be honest, I didn’t
expect him to go that hard early in the season and forget that he beat
Toon Aerts by seconds, but like four and behind. In the last quarter of the race, he made a difference purely
on the good condition and it seems to be like
Toon Aerts did last season. So, yeah, it is a bit new, young kids trying to break dominance
of Mathiew and Wout and curious to see how he will be when Mathieu is starting
again on the 22nd of October, what level his ability
will reach next to Mathieu and to see if he can beat
him in the next races and next week, sure will meet each other and curious to see who
will be the best then. – What do you think Tom
Pidcock’s cyclocross season will look like? And I know in the past, Tom
Pidcock has been a thorn in Eli Iserbyt’s side and we saw last year
Pidcock starting to ride towards the front and
hanging with van der Poel a bit during those last
late-season February races. What’s your take on that? – Pidcock was for sure
very good in February, so at World’s and then the weeks after with the end of the season. He had a bit of trouble in
the beginning of the season reaching a good level. I think up until New Year, his best position in an open elite race with
the pros was fourth position, I can’t remember well, it was in Gavere. And normally in the battles
between Iserbyt and Pidcock on the U-23 level World Cups
or SuperPrestige, DVV Series, in general, Pidcock was the better one, even though Iserbyt won twice
the world championships. But if you take the number of
wins Pidcock towards Iserbyt, I think he’s in the lead, so if he can make the progress that Iserbyt made this season, I’m sure he will also step
up to Mathieu van der Poel. But even then, I doubt
if anybody can be close to van der Poel this season,
same as was last season. So it’s not really motivating for riders sitting next to him at the start. – And I spoke to some of those
riders at the World Cups. Lar van der Haar in particular
was one that I interviewed about this specific subject and I think he felt very motivated that van der Poel would
not be at the races and Wout van Aert would not be races. – Yeah, I’m sure they were all
very keen on taking the win because once van der Poel
is getting back in business in, let’s say, three, four weeks, then they will probably
ride for second place and that’s hard to handle. We were also in our time
racing against Sven Nys, who won also probably
eight out of ten races, but from time to time, you could beat him. Nowadays, Mathieu last season,
he was beaten actually once because the second loss
was due to a crash. It’s very hard to ride against him and I am sure that a lot of riders want to say they are at the start line and getting towards. After the start, in the first
lap when Mathieu attacks, I don’t think they even make
an effort to try and follow him because you know that
you’re killing yourself. That’s probably not so good for the sport. A lot of people, lots more women in cyclocross at this moment because there’s much more competition between different riders. I think if we take last season, we saw probably 10 different riders winning the different series events. Even though I like Mathieu a
lot and he’s a very nice guy, but it’s probably not
so good for the sport. – Yeah, I definitely have to say that I was a big fan of the
women’s races last year, just the battles. It just kept you on the edge of your seat not knowing who would
win and the great battles that make cyclocross so
much fun to spectate. Thank you so much for taking
the time to chat with us and I look forward to
catching up with you each week as we do this segment for the podcast. – Was a pleasure. – Whoo, man! Erwin brought it. Even I learned a ton of stuff from him over the course of that conversation. It was really, really cool to
be able to catch up with him. I have a ton of respect for him. I was just getting my career
kicked off when Erwin retired and I remember racing
with him at the tail end, when he came out to Wisconsin and did some of the
races in the USGP Series and I was able to be
on the podium with him. And he came over the Gloucester when the race was just getting
going, as the world champion. He won his first world title in 2001 at my first junior world championships. Just really cool to be able to sit here and have a conversation with him and learn so much about
European cyclocross. Next up is the man, Lars van der Haar, another ride that I’ve been
able to share the podium with and create a friendship
with over the years. If you guys have seen him race, you know the panache that he’s got. Really excited for you
guys to listen to this one. Lars, welcome to the show. – Thanks for having me, Jeremy. – I did a little bit of research and I’m going to rattle off a
couple of accolades that you had. The one-time junior national champion. Two-times U-23 national champion, and twice also as an elite. We’ve got the 24 overall World Cup win. Three-times podium at
the world championships, once in Louisville, once in
Tabor, and then also in Zolder. You were the elite
European champion in 2015. – Sounds good. – And you’ve won a slew of other races. I don’t know how often that
you’re reminded of this, all these victories or accolades. – Well, only in interviews but since Mathieu and some
other good riders came over, it’s less and less. – At 28, you are now the rider
that is of that generation. So I was racing against
you eight years ago but now at 28, you’re the older side of the cyclocross peloton, which I find to be quite surprising. If you were a road rider, you
would just be getting going. – Yeah, that’s true. – And so I guess the question
is what is the mindset now? What is the sense that you have when you’re racing in the bunch at 28? – Well, you don’t really notice because you’re just racing
against the guys that are there. It doesn’t really matter
if they’re young or old. But it’s just strange that nowadays, almost every race I’m the
oldest guy in the top 10. Even on the podium in Tabor, the elite podium was younger
than the under-23 podium, so that was quite shocking, I think. I think mostly I just do my thing and I try to beat whoever
it is that’s in front of me. There are some guys that
came over pretty young and killing it, so it’s
been quite difficult. – Well, I have to say, I was going to say this at the beginning, but over my years of racing, you come over as an American to Europe
and you’re over there and you’re sort of like
a fish out of water when you’re in Europe. Also I didn’t win every single race so I don’t have insane respect, but I have enough respect
cause I’m in the racing. But you were always one of
the dudes that looked out, punched it out, said hi and I was going to just talk a little bit about your personality, ’cause I think that some people
that are listening to this probably don’t know you. Would you consider yourself an extrovert? – I’m one of those people that
wants everybody to like me and I like a lot of people. So I just hate silences so I
just make a joke or whatever. I’ll never forget the first
race, this is under-23, and you’re standing at
where you get your numbers. Getting my number and Sven
was in the line, Sven Nys, to just get his number and then I would just make a joke and everybody would like at
me like what is he saying? It’s just been me all the time. I like to make it fun. I’m serious enough and I’m
nervous for myself as well, so I don’t want to make
it any more nervous, so you just crack a joke. – I just remember warming up and we’d always have just
hey, how’s it going. I know all the guys but it wasn’t always
so casual, so friendly, like hey, nice to see
you, so thanks for that. – Yeah, well I had a good time in Vegas. I think that’s the first time
we encountered each other. – Yeah, we had some good
battles there, yeah. I was going to talk
about that a little bit ’cause typically, the older
riders phase out of cyclocross. They go over to the road. I know that you have
already raced on the road I remember in North America, you did the Tour of Alberta one year before the cross season. I didn’t do it the same year as you. I did it the year before and I remember it was
really horrible conditions. – It was the most horrible, the coldest race I’ve ever done. I didn’t finish it in the end because two degrees, rain, I mean, echelons, just horrible. Yeah, we did it. – Yeah, so I guess the question is what do you think about when
you look at the road racing? – I loved it the way I did it,
so in preparation of cross. But at one point, there was a point in my previous team with Giant-Alpecin that I had to do too many races when I had injuries or things like that. I didn’t like it so much anymore. But I loved that I had the opportunity to do the Paris-Roubaix once. I loved that I did the Dauphiné once. And I think that the
difference is, though, that when you do a lot of the road races that they do, like the BMC
program, the races are perfect. I can do them, they’re on my level, but as soon as you go to
a Dauphiné or a Roubaix, which is a World Tour-level, it’s just such a big difference. The change in level is so high. I mean, we’re going uphill
here in the Dauphiné and, I mean, Sky is just
killing it on the front and you’re just like
what is happening here? I thought I was a climber but there were 150 climbers that were. Even the sprinters were better
than me in climbing almost, you know what I mean? It was so strange and I
do like to do the road. I just hate racing in
the road in the rain. – For me, I always feel like
the training that I would get from the road racing was the
best thing that I could do to get my engine bigger. So I always felt like it was
just days of motorpacing. I’d literally just be out there suffering. Yeah, I’m not making the front group but I’m in the second or the third group and I’m just sitting there like
I don’t need to do anything, I just need to suffer here and that’s going to get me
ready for the cross season. I think it was the best
training that I could ever do. So how many race days do you think you did during the summer? – Ooh, that’s a good question. I think I would’ve done
about 25 to 30 days of racing on the road. I did one road race less
because of my marriage– – I was going to say. – Normally, I would do all
four of the stage races that we do. And there are two big ones in it, the Belgian Tour and Tour de Wallonie, and then two little ones. But I actually like the little ones better because it’s full-gas
from start to finish. They’re a lot harder than a
Tour of Belgium or whatever. The bigger races you see on
TV are normally not as hard than the races you don’t see on TV, where the level is a little bit lower. It’s just a constant fight. – Let’s talk about your summer. You got married, man. – True that. – What was that like? That went down maybe in June? – No, July, July, yeah. After the nationals,
on the road we did it. – And it was a beautiful day,
I assume a big day for you. – Yeah, it was. We had so much luck too with the weather because we did the ceremony outside and we were just done and
then it started pouring rain, so it was perfect. – Man, you got the best of both worlds. You got the nice day and then
they always say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding. – Is it? Oh, that’s good. – So you got doubled up. – No, it was a beautiful day. I remember saying to Lucy, I was like, “Lucy, don’t get angry if
I don’t cry or anything “because I’m not really a crying person.” But I hadn’t even seen her but through a crack of the bushes, I saw a white dress coming
and I was crying like a baby. – That’s so great. I cried at my wedding too,
if it makes you feel better. – It was the best day of my
life but it was so emotional. I mean, I don’t think I’ve got tears for another 10 years, it’s ridiculous. Even doing my vows, I
was just like (retching) getting it all out, but it was beautiful. – Just to back up for the listeners, Lars married fellow racer,
also a world champion, and quite an accomplished
cyclist, Lucy Garner, so pretty cool. So do you guys split time between the UK and the
Netherlands or do you guys–? – No, we live in Holland and she goes back a
lot when I’m not there. So when I was in Mallorca
a couple of weeks ago, she was two weeks with her parents and seeing her friends and everything. So she will go back a lot more than I do. I normally only go one time because it’s just difficult
for me to go there. And I have to be honest, I find training there
a little bit dangerous, so I’d rather train at home. – Which brings me to my next question. It’s about your dog. – Doggie. – Doggie. What’s his name? – It’s Robbie.
– Robbie, that’s right. It’s a Jack Russell? – Jack Russell, black and tan. – Uh huh. Is your nickname (chuckling) in Europe, sometimes I think I hear the
commentators calling you– – The Jack Russell, yeah that’s true. – What’s that all about? (laughing) – Yeah, I don’t know. I think it came from Paul Arykers. He one said, “oh, you’re like a Pitbull, “no, like a Jack Russell. “You piss on your ankle and
he doesn’t let go anymore.” I think that I was a
little bit in the last laps a lot of lot of the times where I went so hard and I
just dug in and didn’t let go, so that’s where it came from a little bit. So I hear more “go, Jackie”
than I hear “go, Lars”. (laughing) – Who takes care of the dog? ‘Cause you guys are
both traveling, racing, and whose dog is it? Is there like a– – Well, this was the thing. Lucy was scared of dogs, very scared, so I always said I’ve always wanted a dog, but I said we’ll do it after my career or we’ll do it after you stop because I really like German
or Mechelen Shepherds, I really like those, so I want a big dog. But then Lucy suddenly, when
my parents got a dog again, because they didn’t
have a dog for a while, then she really was like,
“oh, I really love this dog, “I really like it” and
she wasn’t scared anymore. And then one day I came back and she was like, “I want a dog.” And she said, “I looked on
the internet, I want a dog. “I want to go tomorrow.” I was like, “Whoa, I mean,
take it easy, okay, you know?” But yeah, okay, it happened so we went there and okay, I said then, “I want a small dog.” It’s just a lot easier to take everywhere but I do want a dog that
does look like a dog, so we went for a Jack Russell then. And I thought it was also quite funny with my nickname, of course. So yeah, we went there and
we saw this little puppy was lost from its nest and just from a farmer, nothing
with papers or anything. We say like a garbage dog, the ones that last forever. So then she was like,
“yeah, I really want it,” so I took her down to the drive. I said, “okay, Lucy, it’s fine “but we need to make some rules. “It’s going to be your dog “and you’re going to
have to take care of it “and it’s going to be your
responsibility if you’re not there “that you take care that it
goes somewhere or whatever.” And “yeah, yeah, yeah, okay.” So we bought the dog. Within a week, it was my
dog as well, of course. I mean, I love the little thing. So yeah, it became our dog
and it worked out really out. My parents can take it 99 out
of 100 times that we’re gone and a lot of the time,
she’s gone and I’m home and I’m gone and she’s home. – I wanted to know what you think that your best performance is. ‘Cause I have a memory of a
race that you did that I was at that I thought was quite possibly the best that I ever saw you race. – Oh, that’s difficult because I really also
think I did a super race where I didn’t win in Zolder, where I got second in the
worlds with Wout van Aert. I think everything went
perfect for me there except I made one huge
mistake for the last climb. I thought I shifted down to
my inner ring and I didn’t and that’s why I had to get off the bike and that’s why I couldn’t
sprint against Wout. I will never say that I could’ve won but I would’ve loved to be able to have a sprint against Wout and that kept me up some nights. But I still believe that
was one of my best races because I took all the risks, I did everything, I think, right, except that one moment I made my mistake. And Valkenburg, of course. I really liked dominating that race for three years in a row. That was really, really nice. – Valkenburg was the one
that I had written down here. I think that, for me, watching you rip that descent in warmup. We had to do it a couple
times the day before. You were absolutely flying. I consider myself a decent,
yeah, I’ll rip a descent, that’s not where I’m getting dropped, but I remember leaving
slightly demoralized after and telling everyone, “yeah,
Lars went down the descent “pretty much brakeless. “It almost looked like
he was pedaling down.” – Wasn’t that the first year
I was doing discs, though, and that’s a big difference. ‘Cause I remember the first
year I rode discs there and I went to go down and
in the race against Poels and I just overtook him in the descents because I could brake 10 times later. – Yeah, even still, brakes aside, you were absolutely (laughing)
ripping that descent and I literally remember I was scared. I’m going to keep it PG, but I was scared by how fast you were going and I thought yeah, okay, I’m
not any good and he’s great and then you went on and you won. – Yeah, yeah, it was a good day. – I wanted to ask a little
bit about van der Poel because I feel that would be kind of, it would be remiss of
me to not ask about it. You’re a world champion rider. You’re top in the world. You’ve been in the top 10
pretty much your entire career of the UCI ranking. Van der Poel comes along
and, y’know, you’re the guy, you’re the national
champion of the Netherlands. I’m just curious about
what your mindset is ’cause we’ve had the same thing
happen in the United States with someone like Katie Compton, that’s come in and been very dominant. – I can just start at the beginning. I mean, we saw him coming at the newlings and he won everything and we thought oh god, the
junior’s going to be difficult. And then he won everything at the juniors and we said oh, it’s going to
be difficult at the under-23 and he won everything with the under-23. And then he decided to go
to the world championship in the elites, which was my
world championship in Tabor where I was going to win and no, I didn’t. So, I mean, they came over and they made everybody look ridiculous. I was, I think, the only one closest then because I got third, I think? I only got beaten by Wout in the last lap. – And that was the youngest
world champion ever. – Yeah, it was just, I think, you don’t accept it but you do have a way like okay, he’s so good. And you try to change
something in your training, maybe do a bit more. I think everybody did that. I think you see that
everybody’s level went up the last years. That’s all because of
those guys, of course. I will always try and beat him and see if I get chances to do so. I won one time in Hoogerheide
where I got the chance but it’s difficult to go
head-to-head with van der Poel. But I am happy that this year he showed how good he was on the
road because, I mean– – I am too. – We got these people saying why can’t you get close to van der Poel? Why can’t you guys do this or that? And then we try to explain well, his level is just really high. It’s not like we’re doing nothing. I mean, we’re all training full-gas. We’re all doing everything forwards. It’s not like Mathieu’s
doing more than we are doing. And then he got on the road. He makes the older people look cat-5. So it’s like then they suddenly realize oh wow, the level that
you guys are getting is actually really high, because we are only in half a
minute, you know what I mean? They accept it now better,
which is happy for us. – Yeah, I think for van Aert too, you can see that it almost is vindicating because I think he took a lot of crap for being second consistently. And I think that all of you have, yeah, people are just like well, there’s not any good cross riders. And that’s why he has such a dominance and that’s just not what’s going on. It’s not. You guys are all class riders
and it’s a very high level. It would literally,
people can’t believe it. I mean, yeah, the level
is, like you said– – You can see when we also go on the road, I mean, Quinten wins big stage races, Toon does top five or
fours in the big races like Tour of Belgium and Wallonie, so we’ve all got a really high level. I mean, it’s not like
they are the only ones that are doing well, but they are doing it a little bit better. That’s the only thing
you can say about that. – Do you think you’ll see more road riders coming over to race cross? ‘Cause the cross riders
have had a ton of success on the road this year. There has just been so many riders. – I think it’s a very difficult way to do it the other way around. I mean, a cross rider has
to be a good road rider to be a good cross rider, but a road rider is not
typically a good cross rider because it’s being a completely
different type of rider. You have to be exposed. You have to be technical. A lot of the road riders
are not as technical as us. Jumping a pavement for
some is a difficulty. It doesn’t mean that they
can’t ride their bike hard. They can still beat me
and a lot of others. But yeah, it’s very difficult
to go from road to cross but from a mountain bike perspective, you can still choose road or cross. – Last question before we
get in to some question and answers getting to know you. For you to die happy with your
cycling career, what is left? – Oh, it’s difficult. – I know, a big question. – Well yeah, of course, I really, really want to
become world champion one time but I’m not going to die
unhappily if it doesn’t happen. I just want to maybe find my own time that I want to stop and not
have to be forced to stop. I think that would make me really happy. – So there’s not one result that that you’re like man, I really want? – Well of course, I want to
win every race that’s there but I really would like to
win a world championship. I would like to win a Zonhoven,
which is a race I love. I mean, it’s a deep ass race for me. But that’s not going to
make me more dying happy. It’s just I would love to
make out my own decision of stopping my career. – So what we’re going to
do here is I’m going to, I’m going to present
some (clearing throat) we’ll call them hypothetical
scenarios, okay, and then you’re going to get
a couple of different options to answer, so A, B, C, or D. First up, do you like Beyonce? Let’s just start there. – Well, my girlfriend, my wife,
sorry, my wife does, yeah. She’s totally in love with Beyonce. – All right then, so let’s start this up. Okay, so you’re in a dark alleyway and you’re walking down the street, boom, you run into someone! You realize that it’s a woman and her things go all over the place. So you still don’t know who it is, you’re picking up their things, and then you help them out to the light that’s on the street and
you realize it’s Beyonce. And she says, “man, that was so nice. “It was really nice of you to
be able to help me like that. “I’m so sorry that we ran into each other. “I have a show on Saturday night “and I was wondering if you
would want to come to the show.” You have a World Cup race on Sunday. Do you, A, tell Sven, who’s the team boss, that’s your manager, Sven, do you tell Sven that you’re
going to miss the team dinner on Saturday night for an
important biographical documentary that’s playing on the History Channel? Do you, B, pay some
strangers to take Sven out for a couple of drinks on Saturday night so you can sneak out and see the show? Do you, C, pull the
fire alarm at the hotel and fake an injury? Or, D, do you miss the Beyonce blowout and just hit dinner with the crew? – Wow, that’s a difficult one. I really can’t say no, for Lucy’s sake. So Lucy would kill me if I
would have Beyonce tickets and not use them but
I’ve missed maybe an E, where I could, say, let Lucy go with somebody of the staff in the team. But, well, I think B will never happen because Sven doesn’t get drunk. I might just pull the fire alarm then. – (laughing) Okay, all right. So you’re long roommates with Toon Aerts, who is the Belgian national champion, for anyone that doesn’t know, whether this is true or not, hypothetical. So you guys are heading
out for a course pre-ride and in the first couple of turns, he chops you in the corner,
meaning he cuts you off and you go flying over the handlebars and you land super hard. You look up and you’re
like, “dude, what the heck? “What were you doing?” But he doesn’t know, he
just keeps on riding. He kind of looks back,
he gives you that look like shouldn’t have tried
to come in like that. Do you, A, hide his shoes
on the morning of the race? B, sprinkle some Tabasco hot sauce in his chamois cream when he’s
not looking and mix it in? Do you, C, steal the batteries
off his SRAM derailleurs just before he’s heading
to the race start? Or do you, D, you make a mental note, but you let it slide this time? – Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh. This comes very close to
what happened two years ago in Waterloo when I crashed in the road, which wasn’t really his fault. I think I would actually
just put an empty battery of SRAM in his derailleur. I think that’s just the best thing to do. That’s the best thing to do. – Okay, so you go out, your season’s over, you go out to dinner with Lucy, and the waiter spills dinner
literally all over her. You guys got dressed up, nice dinner, you guys get dinner spilled all over you. Do you, A, find the waiter, like do you get up and finder the waiter and give him a proper Dutch shakedown, meaning you kind of rough
him up a little bit? B, do you tell Lucy to hang tight, you sprint, run down to
the local clothing shop, and get her a new set of clothes? Do you, C, brush it off and keep on movin’ because you guys are cyclocrossers and that’s fine to be dirty? Or, D, do you ask for the food
to go and let Lucy clean up and have a nice dinner at your house in your pajamas and watch a movie? – Well, none of those will happen. Well, in the end, D will happen. But the real thing that will happen is that Lucy will kill that waiter. I will definitely not have to get up because Lucy will
definitely rough that guy up until he will be giving
his clothes to Lucy. So that’s going to be the real answer. And then, yes, in the end, we will eat at home in our pajamas. – Okay, cool. All right Lars, that
is what we have today. I want to thank you for being on the show and thank you for being a sport. Thank you for being an incredible rider and a good advocate for the sport. Thank you so much. – Thank you. – Man, what a great interview with Lars. Such a good sport and super fun to get those
questions in at the end. Hope you guys liked this show. If you do, please subscribe. Send us out on social media. Let your friends know about the show. Check in with us next week because we’ve got another
action-packed episode that I’m really, really
pumped to bring to you guys. Thank you again so much for listening and have a great week.