World champion Stybar suffering with bad knee pain, drops to second in Superprestige
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Monday, November 15, 2010

World champion Stybar suffering with bad knee pain, drops to second in Superprestige

by Shane Stokes at 6:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
Vows to return to best shape but Nys wants to keep winning

Zdenek StybarZdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) lost his overall lead in the Superprestige competition yesterday, dropping one point behind an impressive Sven Nys in round three in Hamme-Zogge.

While Nys was pushing forward through gloopy, muddy conditions, world champion Stybar was struggling. He eventually finished one minute and 37 seconds back in sixth place, yet was more relieved than disappointed beforehand.

“Before the race, I did not say much about it, but I had a problem with my knee,” he said, referring to the after-effects of a training crash he had days beforehand. “I could hardly walk. It was as if a needle was stabbed into the joint each time. Beforehand, I would have signed up for sixth place. I feared then that I would barely make the top ten.”

Speaking to Belga, he said that he hoped to bounce back quickly. “I could limit the damage and hope now for a good week to recuperate before Gavere.” There, Nys will try to extend his lead in the series he has already won a staggering nine consecutive times. Stybar will be doing what he can to overtake his Belgian rival once more.

However he isn’t just watching one person. “Cross is more than just the two of us,” he insisted. “Vantornout is good, Albert is getting closer, Wellens should never be written off.”

The point that is being made about Wellens is the same lesson that he and his other competitors learned about Nys. The 34 year old had a disappointing start to the season but has now picked up speed, and is once again a rider to be feared.

In fact, his own coach might be amongst those who is surprised at the extent of the rider’s turnaround. “The domination that Sven had shown for years is not possible anymore,” he told Het Nieuwsblad last month. “It wouldn't be good for the sport of cyclocross if a 34-year-old still rides away from all the others. I don't see the lower results as a decline from Sven. The competition, most of all Stybar, has gotten stronger and riders like Aernouts and Pauwels showed it this season.”

However, he did predict then that his form would pick up after some training in Mallorca. “Nys is as competitive as in the past and he wants to show it a few more times this season. Starting with the Zonhoven-Koppenberg double.”

Zonhoven didn’t work out [he was third there], but he won the Koppenbergcross for the eighth time. He then picked up victories in Baal, at the Jaarmarktcross and yesterday in Hamme-Zogge.

"I am in excellent shape at the moment, and I want to exploit that to win as much as possible,” he told Sportwereld afterwards. “Therefore, today's victory comes as a nice bonus.

His one point lead in the Superprestige isn’t much, but he hopes it’ll be the basis for a sustained push at the overall prize. “Everyone knows I would love to win the Super Prestige series for the tenth time. But I also know that it is not easy,” he accepted.

The big question is if a fully-recovered Stybar will once again be able to pull clear of Nys, or if the Belgian has gained enough fitness to counter his rival’s usual power.


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