Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen faced each other at the European Championship track cycling on Friday for the third time this year in the sprint final of a major tournament. Hoogland won for the second time and he enjoyed what he and his teammate showed a year before the Olympic Games.

"I don't really understand how crazy the level of the two of us is. It really feels very good," exclaimed Hoogland after he left the track in Apeldoorn. "It's just hard to distance yourself from Harrie, haha."

The 26-year-old defending champion in Omnisport dealt in two exciting races with the four-year-younger Lavreysen. In March, Hoogland lost to the Brabant player in the final of the World Cup in Poland, after which he took revenge on Lavreysen at the European Games in Minsk in June.

That the two world class players push each other to a very high level, was also evident in Apeldoorn on Friday. After the first heat, Lavreysen saw a top speed of 79.6 kilometers per hour on his counter, and that personal record in a sprint ride was not even enough for the win.

"The difference between the two of us and the rest was very big today. I hope it stays that way," Lavreysen said with a smile. "Of course I am disappointed that I have lost, but the speeds and times that we have set in the final today are really bizarre."

Hoogland: "At the moment Harrie and I are changing the sprint, that's right. For the final we said to each other:" This is what it's all about for us, here we want to show our level. " In the first rounds we can only really lose. That is sometimes difficult. "

Jeffrey Hoogland became European sprint champion for the third time. (Photo: Pro Shots)

"If we go on the road, it's serious"

It also remains difficult for Hoogland and Lavreysen to compete against someone with whom they train every day in an important final. "And that doesn't get any easier now that we meet so often," smiled Hoogland.

"But dealing with each other around a grand finale is getting easier. At the World Cup in Poland we didn't want to let each other know what we were doing. But we both need that distraction, the conversations. So we have we did today. Until we sat down on the seats next to the track for the final, we both know what to do. "

At that moment, just before an important race, the two Dutchmen forget that they are friends. "If we go out on the job, it's serious," said Lavreysen. "Then I don't think anymore: oh, that's Jeffrey. No, then I think: he is a competitor and I have to beat that."

Jeffrey Hoogland dealt with Harrie Lavreysen in two heats. (Photo: Pro Shots)

"We know each other through and through"

On the job, the two have no secrets for each other. Lavreysen knows that he can keep his top speed for longer, while Hoogland has a stronger acceleration from a low speed.

"We know each other through and through," said Lavreysen, who in both final heats had to turn his head to Hoogland and no longer get over his teammate. "Today we actually did two fairly boring rides. With sick top speeds, I do. I don't even feel so bad. Yes, I am defeated. But if I lose, preferably Jeffrey."

Hoogland was happy that he again demonstrated that he is at least as good as the world champion. "I wanted to show everyone here that I am certainly also worth the rainbow jersey. And that I can head towards Tokyo above Harrie. This is still not a world title, but I am very curious to see what will happen next year if I continue like this."

Lavreysen comes into action on Saturday in the keirin section. Then reigning world champion Matthijs Büchli is the second Dutch participant.