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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Looks ahead to Olympic road race and Worlds
Zdenek Stybar has confirmed that he aims to ride a Grand Tour in 2012 and that he'll also aim for a place on the Czech national team for the Olympic road race. The former cyclo-cross world champion had a poor ‘cross season by his standards but is currently taking a break before he starts his road campaign with Omega-Pharma QuickStep in May.
The day before Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Stybar dropped by the team hotel for a photo shoot, and confirmed his plans to Cyclingnews.
"It's finally a holiday. At first I didn't think I needed one and thought I could go and start racing on the road but I'm happy for the rest today," he said.
"I'll take a big break and then start racing at the beginning of May. In March and April I'll start doing a lot more training. Physically I'm not in bad shape but mentally I need a rest.
"I hope I can do a Grand Tour," he added. "But first I'll discuss it with the team. I'll really leave it to the team. They'll decide for me."
Which Grand Tour Stybar may participate in is unclear. The Giro may come to soon considering he will not race until the start of May and with QuickStep heading into the Tour with realistic chances of a top ten placing and stages it may see the Czech star waiting until the Vuelta before he makes a three-week debut. Still, it would mark a important stepping stone for Stybar. Earlier this year Rabobank's Lars Boom admitted that riding a three-week race had given him extra form and fitness for his limited 'cross campaign.
As for Stybar's future ‘cross ambitions, he remains coy.
"I'll go back to 'cross in the winter but not for a whole season," he told Cyclingnews. "It's difficult to predict, so we'll decide things like that closer to the time. Now it's very difficult to say.
"I'm also really aiming for the Olympics road race. We have three places so there's a chance of getting there. And of course there's the Worlds which I hope I can do as well."
Having attempted to combine a road and ‘cross campaign over the last twelve months Stybar is well aware that he will need to plan his schedule with more care, especially after a disappointing ‘cross season.
"In one sense I'm left with real disappointment. I didn't win that much and I didn't finish the season at the top of any of the classifications. Also the Worlds were bad because I got sick. Still, I had a lot of podiums and since mid-December I raced well. Okay, I didn't win a lot but I made a few podiums. I was just missing some of the wins.
"Due to the road season I wasn't fresh for the cyclo-cross season and I lost a lot of time and training. When I restarted I went too hard and I never felt fresh."