Stybar: 'I slept with my rainbow jersey'
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Stybar: 'I slept with my rainbow jersey'

by Ben Atkins at 4:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
 

Yesterday’s Parkcross race in Maldegem, Belgium may have been won by 2009 World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), but the star of the show was undoubtedly the seventh-place finisher: new rainbow jersey Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea), according to Het Nieuwsblad.

“Styby” was already a popular figure in Belgium, but since last weekend’s home victory in Tabor, Czech Republic, his status has risen from mere “Rock-Star” to “A-list Hollywood”. Even fans dressed in scarves and caps proclaiming that they are fans of Albert, or Sven Nys (Lanbouwkrediet), or Stybar’s teammate Bart Wellens abandoned their usual favourites to crowd around the new World champion’s camper.

"I've got to get used to it," said Stybar. "Everybody comes up to me; grabs my arm; everybody. Everybody wants to have their picture with me. Great fun for a while, but I don’t know how I’ll be able to handle it for two weeks.”

Two – and a bit – weeks are all that remain of the 2009/10 cyclocross season, when Stybar will be able to step out of the spotlight for a few months.

“I know I will especially enjoy this jersey,” he continued. “When I became World under-23 Champion in 2005 I didn’t train much in my rainbow jersey; ‘No need,’ I thought.

“Then at the end of the year had to surrender it. Then I realized: ‘Wow! Some years really fly by.’"

Despite having won rainbow jerseys at junior and under-23 level in the past, Stybar confirmed that he did what so many first-time winners of this, and other major jerseys of the sport, do. He slept with it.

"Monday I awoke suddenly at 6:30,” he said. “The first thing I thought was: ‘S**t! It was all a dream!’ But then I looked under the sheets and saw that I had [the jersey] with me,” he laughed. “A really nice way to wake up, I reckon."

Stybar’s usual time to wake up is 7:30, but the World Champion found himself asleep a little longer on Wednesday morning, before the race at Maldegem. This shows, he says, just how much the pressure and exertions of the last few weeks has told.

"Normally I never oversleep,” he said. “And now, suddenly, 8:30, I was just not good. It shows that the last days were exhausting. I never really let myself crawl into bed, but receptions and parties take their toll anyway.

“Tuesday was the first time since the World Championships that I’d sat on my bike; two hours in the pouring rain. My legs felt really bad, they are still not recovered from the World Championships."

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