Two-time defending champion confident of repeat win
The 2012 UCI 'Cross World Championships take place in Belgium this weekend, and Czech star Zdenek Stybar is full of confidence ahead of his bid for a third consecutive victory.
Stybar will be turning his attention to the road season with Omega Pharma QuickStep after the race but is focussed on becoming the first man to win three consecutive titles since Belgium's Roland Liboton achieved the feat in 1984.
"I feel ready for the race, I've been training as I should have and I've had an excellent approach to the race until now," he said. "I'm not feeling the pressure of the race, I'm pretty relaxed. Last week I also worked a lot on a mental level to prepare for the race and this week I've tried to relax and finish preparing. I'm calm and confident for the race.
"Winning the World Championship three times in a row is a dream. Not many riders have done it. I'm highly motivated. I don't want to dwell on this; first and foremost I want to think about running a flawless race and I hope to be in the right place at the right time. The route is difficult and only the best will win. In the last few years I've grown a lot on sandy routes, managing to enjoy some personal gratification. On this type of course you need technique and also a lot of strength."
Stybar identified the home team as his main obstacle to victory but stated that he hoped the local crowds would respect him in his bid for glory.
"The Belgian team is the most fearsome. It will be hard to race against seven Belgian athletes," he said. "At the beginning of the race there could also be some surprises and somebody could get into the first positions. Surely Belgium will be the team to beat. The crowds will be incredible, they're expecting about 40,000 people. I've never raced in front of so many people, it will be thrilling and inspiring. I hope the public will support not only the Belgian athletes but everyone in general."
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