Former cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar will compete in six cyclo-cross races before deciding if he will compete in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands in February.
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider has turned his main focus to road racing, giving up a lucrative offer from Telenet-Fidea, but will dabble in his former discipline in December, beginning with the bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen, Belgium on December 21 before lining up at his first World Cup of the season in Zolder on December 26.
He will then race in the bpost Bank Trofee Azencross in Loenhout, the C2 race in Bredene and the Superprestige in Diegem ahead of the New Year's Day race in Baal.
"For me, cyclo-cross will always be a big passion that is difficult to give up completely, even though my focus is now primarily on the road," Stybar said. "It's an environment that I like a lot and that allows me to be near the fans that have supported me since my career began."
Stybar may feel a bit like he did at the Boonen & Friends charity race earlier this month where he was given a one minute handicap at the start, since he will be required to line up behind all of the other riders who have more UCI points.
"This year I will start at the back of the field because of the cyclo-cross rankings, so it will be difficult to achieve as good of results as in the past," Stybar said. "In addition, I've based my training on the road season, in order to be competitive in the spring Classics, so I don't really know how I compare to the rest of the group. The level of cyclo-cross is very high, and there are very strong riders. The goal is to race as good as possible and give everything — out of respect for the races, the organizers and the fans. It will be fun to participate in these races."
Stybar is uncertain whether he can defend his national championship on January 12, and is still undecided about the world championships. "I don't know yet if I will partecipate in the Czech National Championships because they coincide with the team training camp, which is an important time for building a base for the new season. The World Championships are still a possibility. My participation will depend on how I feel in these first cyclo-cross races and on my level of preparation for the road season. If I am there, it will be to ride a good race."