Zdeněk Štybar and his pink bike are ready for Koksijde Worlds
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zdeněk Štybar and his pink bike are ready for Koksijde Worlds

by Ben Atkins at 3:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
Defending champion prepared for a third-straight title astride his distinctive Specialized Crux

Zdenek StybarDefending champion Zdeněk Štybar will start Sunday’s World cyclocross championship race, on the dunes of Koksijde, Belgium, as one of the outstanding favourites to take a third straight title. Having been victorious on the tough, sandy course in the 2009 World Cup race, and having come into good form in recent weeks, the Czech confidently predicts at least a podium finish for himself; and should he get there, he will have done so on one of the most distinctive bikes in the race.

Eddy Merckx provided frames to Quick Step in 2011 but, since Belgium’s greatest ever rider doesn’t produce a stock cyclocross frame, Štybar rode the first months of the season on the same frame that he’d used the season before, when he’d been riding for Telenet-Fidea. His Ridley X-Nights were repainted to appear like Merckx’ at first, but towards the end of the year they were badged simply as ‘Štybar’.

On January 1st though, the team – which is now called Omega Pharma-Quick Step – switched to Specialized, and he was presented with a new Crux frame. Switching mid-season is never going to be easy – especially as he raced in Bredene on December 29th on his old bike, and in Baal on January 1st on his new one – but Štybar said he “had a very good feeling right from the beginning” with his new bike.

“The bike is incredibly stiff,” he said. “I can feel the power going right into the bike. Plus, it’s 400 grams lighter than the previous bike I was riding, which is always a great benefit — especially when you have to carry the bike!”

Rather than the faux-Merckx paintjob of his old bike, Štybar’s new Crux has been painted pink as a nod to Specialized’s Team Stumpjumper back in 1984.

“At the beginning, I wasn’t so sure about the colour, but this bike is attracting a lot of a attention,” he said. “And now all my fans are starting to wear pink when they come to the races.”

Specialized StybarAs well as the change of frame, Štybar has also had to contend with a total switch of its components too, as Omega Pharma-Quick Step switched from Campagnolo to SRAM, with Zipp wheels. Thankfully, he would have been familiar with SRAM, since he used it at Telenet-Fidea, and recent results indicate that he has not been held back by the switch.

Since New Year’s Day, when he took fourth in Baal, Štybar has retained his Czech national title, and finished first and second in the last two rounds of the World Cup. After suffering the after effects of a full road season in November and December, his form seems to be coming together at just the right time.

“I am in top form for the World Championships,” Štybar said. “I see myself on the podium.”




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