Zdenek Stybar Interview & Cross Worlds Preview

Paul Burgoine writes … Sunday, 29th January – On the sand dunes of Koksijde (Belgium) at least 30,000 people will make the pilgrimage to watch the World’s Elite cyclist’s race at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships.

Among those racing will be our very own Helen Wyman (Kona FSA) and Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles). Helen has not had a great time of it with her preparation this season. After Christmas, Helen was suffering from a virus that put her plans on hold, but thing’s started to come good when she was seen to decimate the field at the National Championships in Ipswich.

Helen Wyman (left) and Ian Field. Photos: Thomas van Bracht

Following that up with a sound 5th place in Lievin, hopefully, Helen is reaching peak fitness at the perfect time. She is hoping for a good end to the World Cup season in the final race in Hoogerheide, Holland on a course that she enjoys racing on. The women’s race also see’s Marianne Vos (Ned) returning to defend her title and she has to be a hot favourite for the race, even though in the World Cup event held on the same course in November she was beaten by Daphny Van Den Brand (Ned) others in with a shout include Katherine Compton (USA) and Sanne Van Paassen (Ned).

The Women’s Great Britain Team is: Helen Wyman, Nikki Harris, Annie Last, and Gabby Day (read her blog here)

In the men’s race, Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) heads to the World Championships on the back of his first National title. An emotional win for Ian and probably his main target this year. But he is in such good form now, a high placing in the Worlds is a well within his reach. I personally feel the winner of the men’s race will come from any of the following four riders; Sven Nys (BEL), Kevin Pauwels (BEL), Neils Albert (BEL) and reigning World Champion Zdenek Stybar (CZH).

World Cup wins have been to-ing and fro-ing between these four most of the season. Sven Nys when on form looks unbeatable but Albert’s win in Diegen was impressive and decisive, in the Koksijde World Cup event Nys narrowly beat Pauwels in a sprint finish, where Pauwels felt Nys impeded him in the final 50M.

One thing’s for sure this has all the ingredients for a classic race in front of massive crowds. The final World Cup event is in Holland this weekend so it should be a good pointer to form, although nothing can compare to the sand at Koksijde.

GB Men’s Team: Ian Field, Jody Crawforth, Paul Oldham

Zdenek Stybar in action this season wearing the rainbow stripes. Photos: Thomas van Bracht

Zdenek Stybar Interview
Current World Champion Zdenek Stybar seems to have hit form just at the right moment, winning in Lievin last Sunday, when breaking away from the field with Kevin Pauwels, and then was left to come home alone after Pauwels crashed on the ‘Last Ronde’ (lap).

I was fortunate to be able to get a short question and answer session with the Omega-Pharma Quickstep rider and current World Cyclo-Cross Champion Zdenek Stybar.

Paul Burgoine: You recently won your sixth Czech Republic National title, it seemed quite a convincing victory, is there much competition for you in your homeland? And what is the state of professional cycling in the Czech Republic at present?
Zdenek Stybar: It was quite an easy win, but it doesn’t matter. I was really happy to have won the Czech Republic title again. I think in a few years time, there will be a lot of younger guys coming through the ranks.

PB: In Koksijde’s World Cup race, you began very well and have won there before, how do you feel about the upcoming World Championships?
Zdenek Stybar: I think if I am 100% fit and healthy, I can fight again for one of the podium places, but it will be a very difficult race. I am looking forward to defending my jersey so much.

PB: Diegam was an amazing race. I have never seen anyone go so hard for the first few laps, was this part of your strategy? Sven Nys was in serious trouble after that attack – is that the way to beat him?
ZS: Problem was that I blew up myself after my efforts then I was not able to go for a good result anymore. I felt very good in Diegam – but unfortunately I used the wrong strategy, but I wanted to make a race of it and attack.

PB: Omega-Pharma-Quickstep are looking like a strong team this season. Does the mood in the camp reflect this?
ZS: I think the team is super motivated and super professional. I have never seen this before. I think a promising year lies ahead….

PB: There has been a lot of talk about you quitting Cyclo-Cross to concentrate on the road. Is there any truth in the rumours?
ZS: Yes it’s true. I never really want to quit but it’s inhuman to do road and Cyclo-Cross in the same year. It’s impossible – I have to choose and the final decision will be at the end of the 2012 season.

PB: In your opinion, is it possible the combine road racing and Cyclo- Cross without suffering fatigue at some point in the season?
ZS: No, it’s not possible.

PB: A lot of Belgium Cross riders, compete in mountain bike races. Have you ever considered this option?
ZS: Yes, I did compete in some races and it’s probably the best summer preparation for the Cyclo-Cross season.

PB: What are your main targets for the 2012 season?
ZS: World Championships in Koksijde and to gain lots of experience on the road racing side….

PB: You have had fantastic success in Cross. What type of race do you think will suit you on the road?
ZS: I’m focusing for a race like… Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). I’ll never be a climber. I am about 71-72kg and that means I’m too heavy for the mountains….

PB: Would it be possible for you to ride in the Olympic Road Race?
ZS: Yes, that’s one of my goal’s to be there in London this summer.

PB: Are you looking forward to riding with Levi Liephiemer? It is an interesting signing for Omega-Pharma-Quickstep. Have you had a chance to chat with him yet?
ZS: Yeah and not only him, there is lot of new strong riders. I have met him already and also all the rest of the team. Everyone is really very friendly and the atmosphere is excellent inside the team

PB: What is your favourite course and your worse?
ZS: Tabor the best one and the worst is Gieten.

PB: Who has been inspirational in your career?
ZS: Lance Armstrong and Sven Nys.

PB: What do you think you would be doing if you was not a Professional cyclist?
ZS: Probably studying for a long time.

PB: ‘Veprove Knedliky’ (A Czech stew) or Frites and Mayonnaise?
ZS: Ha-ha, if I’m in Czech Republic then Veprove s knedlikem, if in Belgium Frites in Mayonnaise :)

I would like to thank Zdenek for his time and wish him the best of luck in the defence of his jersey. Koksijde is very close to Calais and Dunkirk and well worth the trip over to support our riders, and join in the fun of a Belgium cross race. All details can be found on the Koksijde website, also a bit of a tip P&O ferries are doing a good day trip deal at present including 6 free bottles of wine and the crossing for £19.

Other GB Riders Competing at the Worlds
Under-23 Men
Steve James
Kenta Gallagher
Luke Gray
Jack Clarkson

Junior Men
Hugo Robinson
Alex Welburn
Joe Moses

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