This appeared on Bikeradar
This weekend Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) is hoping to complete a hat trick, going for three world championship cyclo-cross titles in as many years, and he'll be doing so on a bike that he's only been racing for a month.
The Czech racer already owns six world championship medals – he took two world titles as a U23 rider, plus bronze (2008), silver (2009) and two golds (2010, 2011) in the elite category – and has spent the past four seasons on the same bike, Ridley’s carbon X-Night.
So changing bikes, especially mid-season, must be nerve wracking. However, the reigning champ has taken it in stride. “I really enjoyed it,” he told Specialized for a promotional video after the GP Sven Nys in Baal, Belgium where he debuted the bike wearing a pink fedora. “I'm actually very impressed by this frame. I never expected after seeing the frame [for the first time] that it would be so good.”
“The bike is incredibly stiff,” added Stybar in a Specialized press release. “I can feel the power going right into the bike. Plus, it’s 400g lighter than the previous bike I was riding, which is always a great benefit – especially when you have to carry the bike!”
The change of bike hasn’t happened quietly – Stybar's CruX stands out from the crowd thanks to its pink paintjob. The colour was chosen to commemorate Specialized's first mountain bike squad, Team Stumpjumper, who used pink bikes (fitted with drop bars) in the early 1980s. What we would have given to be a fly on the wall when Specialized pitched the Czech rider on the marketing stunt – we imagine much may have originally been lost in translation.
He’s surely now happy with the bike, and its color, after having taken his first World Cup win of the season with the CruX at the penultimate stop of the series in Lievin, France, which he then followed with a strong second place to Kevin Pauwels at the finals last weekend in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.
Stybar’s CruX is the only alloy bike at the front of the race, and maybe the only metal bike that’s now being used in the elite men’s World Cup competition (note that Ian Field, the UK’s national champ, rides a CruX too). Stybar’s personal rig – actually, he has four 54cm CruX bikes – is custom not only in color but also geometry.
“It's slightly custom but most people would have a hard time differentiating it from the stock 54; minor, minor adjustments in geometry,” Specialized marketing rep Ben Delaney told BikeRadar. “The only change was a slight increase in the seat tube length to give him just a bit more clearance for his arms when shouldering the bike.”
One other custom tune is available to Stybar: the ability to swap between two fork rakes for different course conditions; he has both 49mm and 51mm options available. We’d expect him to be on the longer rake for the sand at Koksijde this weekend, but Delaney said he'd make the final call after training on Saturday.
All of Stybar’s kit comes from the SRAM family, with a Black Red transmission paired to Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes – set narrow for more power – and supplemented with Specialized’s S-Works carbon crank. Cockpit and wheels come from Zipp in the form of their alloy Service Course components and a quiver of 303 and 404 Firecrest wheels.