Reigning cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) finished off the podium on both races this past weekend and he's attributed his performance in recent weeks to the effects of a taxing road campaign leading into 'cross season. The 25-year-old Czech finished fourth on Saturday in the Koksijde, Belgium-hosted third round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, also the venue for the upcoming world championships in January. Stybar followed that result with a 6th place finish on Sunday at the Superprestige Gieten.
"I'm missing freshness," Stybar told Het Laatste Nieuws. "During the race I feel pretty good but in the last quarter there has been no acceleration in recent weeks. I'm starting to realize that the heavy summer has cost me more than expected, mentally and physically."
Stybar officially joined Quick Step on March 1 of this year and started his road season in early May with a third place overall finish in his first race: the Four Days of Dunkirk. Stybar continued his road campaign through the end of August with such races as the Tour de Suisse, Eneco Tour, Tour of Belgium and Tour de Picardie.
Stybar started his 'cross season on September 24 with the first round of the Toi Toi Cup in his native Czech Republic, where he rode to a resounding victory, but then suffered a knee injury in a freak post-race crash which put him off the bike for 10 days. Stybar returned to racing for the opening Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde on October 9 and has competed every weekend since.
"Maybe I made the mistake of hard training. Normally I do nothing more, but gradually I'm realizing that it is time to rest. My body says stop."
Stybar, however, isn't worried about his current condition. "We are only at the end of November, the season is still long. This is not the time to panic."
The Czech is seeking respite in a warmer climate in order to re-charge for the latter portion of the 'cross season.
"I leave for Mallorca and I hope the peace and the sun will do me good."