Zdenek Stybar reacts to criticism over sitting out Pontchâteau World Cup race
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Zdenek Stybar reacts to criticism over sitting out Pontchâteau World Cup race

by Ben Atkins at 1:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
 
UCI co-ordinator and Sven Nys angry at World champion’s decision to save himself for title defence

zdenek stybarZdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) has reacted angrily to criticism over his decision to sit out Sunday’s World Cup race in Pontchâteau, France, according to Sporza. The Czech World champion has elected to stay in Mallorca, where he is training in the warmer weather, and has come under fire from big rival Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and, more significantly, Peter Van den Abeele, the International Cycling Union (UCI) cyclocross co-ordinator, in recent days.

“That Zdenek Stybar is forfeiting Pontchâteau defies all imagination,” Van den Abeele told Het Nieuwsblad and Het Laatste Nieuws. “That is not worthy of a World champion.”

“Whenever there’s a World Cup race 500km outside Belgium you get these exact problems,” he said. "This is detrimental to the globalisation of the sport; and if we require the top riders to participate then we at the UCI are dictators.

“I have much more respect for Sven Nys,” he concluded. “He can’t win the World Cup [overall], but he is still going to France.”

Nys already came out in the media in December to hypothesise that Stybar’s enforced layoff in through knee injury would leave him fresher for the World championships. The kannibaal was not openly critical at the time, because the rest was forced upon the World champion; this time though, he pulled no punches.

“It’s Stybar’s right to miss the World Cup,” Nys told Het Nieuwsblad, “but it’s too bad for the sport.

“I would never do such a thing as World champion,” he explained, “because it’s the obligation of the position to give your best at all the top ‘crosses. This has been the success of our sport in recent years; people want to see the top riders go to their limit every weekend.

“If this kind of thing continues,” he added, “there would be a danger that the value of the World Cup will drop and so would the interest of the TV; and that is a bad thing for our sport.”

Stybar has come out in defence of his decision to stay in Mallorca this weekend, expressing disappointment with the reaction as he thought that: "maybe I’d be given a little more respect in place of all the criticism.

“For the sport I would be there on Sunday,” he told the Belgian media, “but for the next few weeks I just want to think of myself. I want to fully prepare for the World Championships and the best option is to miss Pontchâteau.

“I have a good feeling,” he explained, “and the long, drawn out trip to France would undo a lot of the effect of this training camp. I could have said that I was suffering from my knee problem again, or that I was sick; but I’ve just been honest.”

It is that honesty that Stybar, presumably, feels he may get respect for.

Pontchâteau is in southern Brittany on the west coast of France, and was the venue for the 2004 World Championships, won by Stybar’s teammate Bart Wellens; the last time there was a World Cup race there though, was in the 2000/01 season. The French rounds of the World Cup have more usually been in Liévin and Roubaix, which are both close to the Belgian border, and Nommay, which is close to Switzerland; these locations caused no transport issues for riders.

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