Talkingshop: Znedek Stybar


He was the rider many expected to beat Cancellera until he hit a spectator. Paul Burgoine spoke to Omega Pharma Quickstep rider  Znedek Stybar

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Last Sunday, in his first Paris-Roubaix, cyclo-cross star Znedek Stybar showed the world he could go the distance and was one of two riders to resist the attacks of the eventual winner, Fabian Cancellera. There was to be no fairy tale finish to his Spring Classics season when part of his bike hit a spectator sending him across the road and having lost his foot in the pedal, his race was over.


Paul Burgoine spoke to the Omega Pharma Quickstep rider …

PB: Znedek this is your first season of Spring Classics – how do you feel it is working out?
Znedek Stybar: It’s my second year on the road but yes, my first time doing the Spring Classics. That was the reason for me shortening my cyclo-cross season. I would have liked to have seen a good result in these early races but it is very difficult. Also we were racing as a team and I didn’t even ask to be a team leader at this stage. I need the experience from my team mates and then in later years I hope to be able to try something on my own. I have to prove myself first and gain the confidence of my team.

PB: Did you enjoy your experience of the Tour of Flanders?
ZS: I was happy after my race. It was one of the best days out on my bike ever. In cyclo-cross, it is a beautiful a lap of around three kilometres with 20,000 people. Here we rode the 60k from Brugge to Oudenaarde and already there were thousands and thousands of people. The atmosphere was amazing. Even in the shops you get the newspaper with the maps in and the bidons with the route on the. Its exciting and is really something special.

PB:Do you think you will ride cross again next season?
ZS: You know next year I think maybe I will do the same as this season, racing around the Christmas and the New Year period. I enjoyed it. When it’s not good weather outside to train, I will race so I can keep my cross skills and fitness, but yes I think it’s good to do it and keep your skills.

PB: Do you think you will ride the World (Cyclo-Cross) Championships next season?
ZS…” Well it’s in Hoogerheide so it’s not far from where I stay in Belgium and where my girlfriend lives. It is only about 15 kilometres away from us, but it depends on the team because maybe we will go to Qatar again and you have to make sure it’s everything the team wants because I think next year could be my crucial year to see how far I could go in the sport.


Photo: OPQS/Tim De Waele

PB: What do you feel about Paris-Roubaix?
ZS: The race is very special like Flanders. The bikes are different, the materials are different, It is something I have dreamt about all my life. They are both very special races.

PB: What happened out there on the road in Paris-Roubaix?
ZS: I had Stijn in front at first, so I didn’t have to pull. Then I was in a perfect position following Cancellara. I was feeling good and knew that I was the best sprinter in the group. Then I caught my shifter on a spectator or photographer and my foot became unclipped from the pedal.

When you lose 10/15 seconds in this race, it’s impossible to get back especially after 240 kilometres. On one hand, I am extremely disappointed but on the other hand I am happy that I was in the final in my first Paris-Roubaix. One day I will come back and win this race. I think I made the right decision to shorten my cross season to compete in the spring classics.

Once we hit the cobbles and saw all those crowds I realized it’s very unique to be so lucky and so strong every single second. One moment you can lose everything, or you can win everything.”


Photo: OPQS/Tim De Waele

I think as a team we did a really perfect job. From kilometre zero there was always someone in the breakaway. There was not once a group without our team. So, I think after the bad luck of Tom Boonen, we proved we can still do really well as a team.

PB: Do you have any Grand Tours in your race programme?
ZS: It’s still undecided but maybe the Vuelta. I also rode it last year.

PB: What are you targets for the rest of the season?
ZS: It was always important for me to learn as much as I can from this classics season. Now that is finished, I don’t know the plan for the second part of the season. We will sit down and decide for the second part of the year and analyse my races and see where I can improve next season.

PB: Do you find it funny how you keep getting mistaken for your team mate Michal Kwiatkowski?
ZS: Yes, it’s funny, even friends of my parents sent a message, hey the commentators are crazy they are saying its Kwiatkowski in the breakaway but its Zdenek. I’m going to call them! Even my dad was saying its him but my mother always recognises me.

PB: How did all your supporters come to wear Pink?
ZS: It started in the Czech Nationals as the fans knew I was going to ride a pink bike so they dressed with pink scarfs and pink hats then at the Worlds in Koksijde, pink was everywhere. It was fantastic.

PB…You are very entertaining on Twitter (@zdenekstybar). Do you think it’s important to stay in touch with your fans?
ZS: ”I think it’s pretty important for the team. I have had Twitter for two years and on the years I didn’t race on the road, I wanted to know what was going on with the professional riders. It’s great to follow people and get to know their personality.



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