Former cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar has taken his first victory on the road since he started to combine the two disciplines with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team in 2011. The Czech rider won the queen stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk, stage four which finished on a cobbled climb in Cassel, France.
"I am super happy about this victory," Stybar said. "I proved I can win also on the road. A lot of people said it wasn't possible, and now I showed it was possible."
The 2010 and 2011 cyclo-cross world champion went through a more difficult period last year, not being as competitive as before. His personal trainer, Peter Hespel, told Het Nieuwsblad that he was confident this victory represented a breakthrough and would launch the Czech's career on the road. "This can really start off his season," said Hespel, explaining that Stybar's build-up this year had been very specific in view of success.
"After a less successful time in cyclo-cross, we decided to rest for a few weeks," Hespel explained. "Zdenek is someone who wants to train constantly, and sometimes you have to hold him back. After that followed a five-week training camp in Mallorca. We asked him not to overdo it, and he trained with a great mentality."
Together with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team, it was decided that the 26-year-old should not race the spring classics, "even if they are the races of his dreams," continued Hespel. "We focused on races that would suit his qualities better. And it worked."
Stybar's team manager Patrick Lefevere was of course delighted about the victory at the Four Days of Dunkirk, and said that he had always put his faith in the rider, who has "a lot of class. Zdenek was very professional after his disappointing cross season. He trained on his own and stuck to his programme very strictly.
"Stybar has just one problem: he always wants to see results. Which is why we didn't let him start in the spring classics. He could also score the wins he wanted in the somewhat easier races."