Stybar ready to prioritise road over cyclo cross
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stybar ready to prioritise road over cyclo cross

by VeloNation Press at 7:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
World cross champion realises he can’t try to target both disciplines

Zdenek StybarHaving been unable to show the same dominance in cyclo cross as he did in the past, Zdenek Stybar has wisely made the decision to choose one discipline over the other and to concentrate more fully on road racing in the future.

The Czech, who won the world championships at the start of 2011 and then began his first full season on the road with the Quick Step team, has lacked a top edge in cross races.

That’s likely due to fatigue from a year racing on the road, but also because cross races are a relatively short, intensive effort and thus very different from the stamina needed in road events.

Having worked hard to build his endurance, he clearly is missing some of the explosiveness that he has before. That’s prompted a decision which was, in reality, long overdue.

“I’ll continue in the coming weeks to do what I do, partly because I would like another world title in Koksijde,” he told the Gazet Van Antwerpen. “But this is - for now anyway - my last full winter campaign.”

The announcement is one which will be welcomed by his Omega Pharma Quick Step team, which signed him up as a rider who it believed could shine in future editions of Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders. The management have been urging him to make a decision to prioritise road; it’s a reasonable request, given that it wants to see him start the new season fresh and ready to work hard, not drained and demoralised after a tough cross campaign.

“I won’t turn my back on cyclo cross,” explained Stybar. “But next year I will take an example from Lars Boom. He makes cross a part of his preparation for the road season. Lars combines it with pleasure, and that's what I also plan. If I should fail on the road, I can always go back fully [to cross], but for now I really do not intend to do so.”

Boom started off in cross and was world champion in 2008, then signed for the Rabobank team. Since then he has worked hard on his road racing and has clocked up several big results, including a stage win in the 2009 Vuelta a España, the overall classification of the Tour of Belgium plus the prologue of Paris-Nice.

The 2011 season was a successful one for him, with victories including the prologues of the Tour of Qatar and Critérium du Dauphiné, as well as two stages and the overall classification in the Tour of Britain. Boom is proof of what can be achieved when a strong cross rider balances things properly in terms of his season demands.

In September, Stybar already indicated that some thinking was probably needed. “I’ve ridden a full road programme and I don’t know how my body will react,” he explained then to Het Nieuwsblad. “In November it might transpire that I’m not fresh and need to rest. I’d have to cut back my programme to get back to the top; also with a view to the road season in 2012.”

He indicated at that point in time that he would make a final decision about whether to prioritise road or cross at the end of 2013, when his contract with the Quick Step team expired. However it now appears that he has made his decision a lot earlier than that.

“When I stayed with the rest of the team in Calpe [at the training camp], I was amazed looking at the way the team was working. When I saw my team-mates have their road season prepared, it made my decision: I want that too. Maybe you I only have one chance at a WorldTour team. I’ll dedicate myself to it, grasping it with both hands.”


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