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Jackie Tyson

Ronhaar avoids geese but feels like 'a dying swan' in podium finish at Flamanville World Cup

A stray goose on the World Cup Flamanville course avoids a collision with Pim Ronhaar.

Pim Ronhaar had a wild ride at the Flamanville World Cup, colliding with course fencing and avoiding a near crash with a gaggle of geese. He came through the flurry of unexpected obstacles without causing harm to himself, or the birds, but lost the race lead and one spot in the World Cup standings. 

The 22-year-old Baloise Trek Lions rider opened a solo lead of 14 seconds over chasers, which included World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and teammate Lars van der Haar, who was also trailing Ronhaar in third place in the series standings. But with three laps to go, Ronhaar began to lose a grip in the slippery mud and then on his lead. He would eventually place third in a race won by Iserbyt.

“I was riding strong lap times, every lap 8:35. I was not feeling that great, but my basic tempo was high. I saw that Eli [Iserbyt] had a bad start, so I wanted to push from the beginning. Then three laps from the end he sprinted to my wheel and I tried to stay with him, but I was done,” Ronhaar recounted at the finish.

It wasn’t just a collision with fencing that disrupted Ronhaar’s rhythm, but the sight of three geese who had apparently wandered across the course from a nearby lake. He could have cried ‘foul’ for a near-crash when one of the fowls decided to get in the middle of the action, but laughed about the incident later.

“Suddenly Huey, Dewey and Louie were sitting there,” said Ronhaar in a report by Het Niewsblad. “I almost ran over them.”

Two of the geese were seen on the live broadcast inside the fencing on a turn, getting a close-up view of Ronhaar as he swerved to miss them on the fourth lap, his lead still intact. Then as Iserbyt, Van der Haar and Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) went through the same corner in the chase, they also managed to swerve and avoid collisions, one of the geese flying over the fencing to safety.

It was on the fifth of seven laps that Iserbyt was able to pass Ronhaar on a wide, left-hand corner when the young Baloise rider’s back wheel clipped the course fencing, causing him to slip sideways. Immediately, Iserbyt jumped around on the inside and took off, leaving Ronhaar to remount his bike and go into chase mode.

“When Eli came at me, I jumped [into] the barriers but it was a little bit tricky. He was just stronger,” Ronhaar said, who encountered one of the geese a second time.

“In the last round they were there again, but then I was a dying swan myself. I am happy I am third. I almost fell off the podium.”

Iserbyt won the sixth round of the series in Flamanville and extended his World Cup series lead. Van der Haar finished second, which pushed him one spot higher in the World Cup standings, displacing Ronhaar to third overall. 

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