Zdenek Stybar on cross Worlds: “I’m calm and confident”
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Zdenek Stybar on cross Worlds: “I’m calm and confident”

by Kyle Moore at 5:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
 
Czech star looking to make it three world titles in a row in Koksijde

Zdenek StybarZdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) heads into Sunday’s World Cyclo-cross Championships as a favourite to win on the Koksijde sand dunes. While the Czech rider will face a stiff resistance from a loaded Belgian squad, he says he is serene and confident.

Stybar was speaking to a host of media at a press conference today and spoke about his form, which came under questioning occasionally through the season. The current ‘cross season marks Stybar’s first attempt at racing cyclo-cross after coming off of a year on the road with the Quick Step Cycling Team, and he hasn’t seemed as consistently sharp as before.

While he was overshadowed by Belgian stars Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) for much of the season, Stybar mentioned no regrets leading to Worlds.

“I feel ready to race, I’ve been training as I should have and I’ve had an excellent approach to the race until now,” he explained. “I’m not feeling the pressure of the race – I’m pretty relaxed.”

Stybar’s form has come around in recent weeks. He took his lone World Cup victory in Lievin on January 15th, and finished second behind Pauwels in Hoogerheide last weekend. Better results seem to have led to a more relaxed feel heading into the biggest race of the season.

“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,” he added. “I’m calm and confident for the race.”

When asked to name his competition, Stybar pointed to the Belgian squad, racing on a home course with seven of the top names in the sport. Along with Pauwels and Nys, the team will carry Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) as a wild-card, more than capable of winning.

“The Belgian team is the most fearsome,” Stybar noted. “It will be hard to race against seven Belgian athletes. At the beginning of the race there could be some surprises and somebody could get into the first positions. Surely Belgium will be the team to beat.

“The crowds will be incredible – they’re expecting about 40,000 people. I’ve never raced in front of so many people, so it will be thrilling and inspiring. I hope the public will support not only the Belgian athletes but everyone in general.”

In the Koksijde World Cup event in November, Stybar was fourth, but the Czech said he enjoys the difficulty of the sandy course.

“The route is difficult and only the best will win,” he added. “In the last few years I’ve grown a lot on sandy courses, managing to enjoy some personal gratification. On this type of course you need technique and also a lot of strength.”

Questions have been raised this season regarding Stybar’s future, and whether or not he should make road racing his primary focus. While his season might have gotten off to a slow start, the two-time World Champion says he is ready to fight for a third title in a row.

“Winning the World Championship three times in a row is a dream,” Stybar admitted. “Not many riders have done it. I’m highly motivated. I don’t want to dwell on this; first and foremost I want to think about riding a flawless race and I hope to be in the right place at the right time.”

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