Cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep Cycling Team) may not actually be ready to give up his focus on the discipline in favor of his road career in the 2012-2013 season. Contrary to previous reports where he indicated he might scale back his off-season racing, Stybar clarified after the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy race in Loenhout that he will not say goodbye to cyclo-cross entirely.
"I didn't expect them to make such a big news item out of it," Stybar said in Loenhout of the reports based upon his previous comments. While former world champion Lars Boom has reduced his own 'cross schedule to just a few races per year, Stybar said he hasn't decided exactly how much he will race in the next 'cross seasons. "Everybody has his own approach. I'll do it my way," Stybar said.
"Cyclo-cross is my life, my true love. This is certainly not my last cyclo-cross season but it might become a bit less. It's no farewell," Stybar said.
"I didn't make a decision yet but I'll have to take it at some point. I have the chance to ride in a big team with the best people and the best riders in the world. Then you don't have to doubt too much. Next year I go for it."
In the meanwhile, Stybar has bounced back from fatigue and has resumed his podium position, and is expected to fight to retain his rainbow jersey. He denied, however, that Omega Pharma Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere is putting any pressure on him to do so. "No, that's not true. I'll do everything I can to win it though," Stybar said.
By racing cyclo-cross until February his 2012 road season is already in jeopardy. The 2013 season will be the first to make conclusions about his capabilities and future chances in for example the Tour de France. "That, I will never win," Stybar smiled before talking about a more realistic goal. "I will try to be at the Olympics. Not as a mountain biker but on the road. Our country currently has three spots. We have [Roman] Kreuziger (Astana) and also my new teammate [Frantisek] Rabon (HTC-Highroad) who probably does the time trial. I already talked with our national coach and they are interested to have me there. I will do everything to finish the season fresh. I will do a month and a half on the road and then I'll take a well-deserved break," Stybar concluded.