I was originally going to entitle this blog something along the lines of “Whatever Stybar’s been taking… I want some!” but considering recent lengthy investigations involving various Spanish meats and allegations of doping, I realised the phrase may be misinterpreted. We don’t focus too heavily on Cyclocross here at PBK but we thought it was about time we did something to entertain our readers of that persuasion. Recent news means there may also be something of interest in this blog for the roadie.
Plus, rather than give you a typical round up of the latest events and bore you with endless times and standings we thought we’d take a different tact.
In the US, Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Timothy Johnson and Jeremy Powers are continuing to consolidate their lead over the rest of the pack. However, across the water, Zdenek Stybar, currently riding for the Fidea Cycling Team, is but a speck on the horizon at the top of the current UCI Patrick Cyclocross World Cup standings. Why is this, you might ask? Here are 10 reasons why:
- Experience: Stybar has over 17 years of experience in Cyclocross, taking victories in the Junior and U23 categories before really hitting his stride in the Men’s Elite. This culminated in a near perfect 09/10 season. However, it appears his successes have only motivated him further, hence his domination in the current season so far.
- Support: Starting the season at home in the Czech Republic, Stybar was bound to have an edge over his primarily Belgian rivals. Stybar himself revealed how crucial the support was to him after Round Two of the World Cup in Plzeň; “The spectators were excellent,” Stybar exclaimed, “I want to thank everyone for making this a festival”. The ‘festival’ was certainly appropriate as Stybar was ready to don his dancing shoes after yet another victory.
- Master of the elements: Stybar’s ability to surge through to victory no matter the conditions is fundamental to his success. Rain, wind or snow, Stybar seems to remain focused on the task at hand.
- Endurance: Stybar won the second round of the Superprestige series in Zonhoven, Belgium which featured an extremely tough segment with a downhill sand trap, followed by a set of stairs, followed by another downhill sand trap and concluded with an uphill sand section. Sprinting up a sandy hill with a bike on your back sounds tiring and that’s before you consider it was a ten lap race!
- Good learner: In the same race, Stybar waited patiently for his moment to break away from the pack. Nys, one of Stybar’s closest rivals commented at the finish, “One time I was a bit too far back and Stybar perfectly profited from it. The Czech learned that from me”. Crafty!
- Aggressive and determined: In round one of the World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland, seeing his opponents dismount to cross a sand trap, Stybar simply powered right through. That’s the kind of determination Wiggins could have used on the climb to Avoriaz in the TdF ’10!
- Tactics: By accelerating often enough to tire his competitors, the pack just doesn’t seem to be able to keep up.
- Holding back: Stybar has readily admitted he often holds back, keeping something in reserve for future events. It makes you wonder exactly how much more he has to give?!
- Safe in the saddle: Taking place long before the season even began, a successful operation to remove a cyst from his saddle area has clearly been critical to Stybar’s success. Stybar revealed, “I was all for muddling along, but it was not possible to go on any longer.” Progressing through his own pre-season pain cave, Stybar could therefore continue his preparations in comfort.
- Luck: There’s clearly been an element of luck to Stybar’s success. His opponents have suffered numerous crashes, punctures, broken spokes and troublesome chains while Stybar always appears to emerge unscathed. Nevertheless, wayward spectators waving at the TV cameras in the second round of the Superprestige almost cost Stybar victory and a crash in the recent Koppenbergcross meant a 4th place finish was all Stybar could muster. Is Stybar out of luck? We’ll soon see.
Stybar is undoubtedly a talented individual. Importantly for the road enthusiasts that are reading, Stybar has recently reiterated his intentions to compete on the road;
“A Pro Team that gives me the chance to take a stab at the Spring Classics and also allows me to go back in November for some cross races without regard to the standings – that would be the ideal combination. Now, I just have to find that team.”
Apparently, Stybar has received several offers from Pro Teams but has been reluctant to commit to anything just yet. Considering his impressive Cyclocross performances, it would be interesting to see if his talents extend to the tarmac.
What are your highlights of this season’s Cyclocross so far, whether in Europe, the US or elsewhere? Can you see Stybar competing alongside the world’s best on the road? Let us know your thoughts below.