Stybar against the Belgians

Zdenek Stybar

Stybar meets the press prior to his title defense. Photo ©

By Patrick O’Grady

Quick-Step’s Zdenek Stybar is after a third consecutive world championship this weekend in Koksijde, but he knows there will be seven Belgians standing in his way — among them national champ Sven Nys, who hasn’t claimed a rainbow jersey since 2005 despite an otherwise illustrious career.

“The Belgian team is the most fearsome. It will be hard to race against seven Belgian athletes,” he said during a press conference on Friday. “Surely Belgium will be the team to beat.”

The sandy Belgian course — previewed here by Cyclocross Magazine‘s Christine Vardaros —  will be equally tough, Stybar said.

“On this type of course you need technique and also a lot of strength,” he said. “For me it is the hardest course of the whole season. There is nothing that is similar, not even the Koppenberg. You have to ride 100 percent; there is no chance to rest. And you have to concentrate for the whole race so you don’t make any mistakes in the sand.”

• Pix of U.S. champ Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) training in Koksijde

Asked whom he considered his main rivals, Stybar named Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and World Cup champion Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor).

“Sven Nys is in great form and I know he really wants to win,” he said. “Niels Albert has to save his season by getting a good result in these championships. He was also injured and his results were not so good. And Kevin Pauwels showed us in the last World Cup race that he is strong enough at the end of the season too.”

Nevertheless, Stybar said he was “calm and confident” and “highly motivated” going into Sunday’s championship, where he hopes to be the first man to win three consecutive titles since Roland Liboton in 1982-84.

“I feel ready for the race. I’ve been training as I should have and I’ve had an excellent approach to the race until now. I’m not feeling the pressure of the race, I’m pretty relaxed. Last week I also worked a lot on a mental level to prepare for the race and this week I’ve tried to relax and finish preparing. I’m calm and confident for the race.”

Stybar also called winning worlds three times in a row “a dream” — and one that he would not dwell upon.

“First and foremost I want to think about running a flawless race, and I hope to be in the right place at the right time.”


3 Responses to “Stybar against the Belgians”

  1. sherkat Says:

    Sven won in 05….but it seems like he never wins, and I’d bet against him this year as well. He looked like shit on toast on Sunday.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, y’old Iranian Redneck … thanks for the catch on Nys’ ’05 title. I always forget about that one for some reason.

      Yeah, when Sven’s hot he’s hot, and when he’s not he’s not. Seems like if he’s not bound for the top step he switches off mentally.

      I like watching him when he’s on. But I like watching Stybar and Pauwels all the time. Styby looks like a boxer pummeling some pug up against the ropes and Pauwels goes all goggly-eyed like he can’t believe he gets paid to race bikes for a living.

      • darren Says:

        Yep, it’s easy to forget, since he’s almost always blown from beating the shit out of everyone from September-January…I’d have to watch the last sandpit smash, but Stybar seems likely. I like Pawels, I think he has Aspberger’
        s or something….but the kid can ride a bike like Sven Nys!

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