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Elite men's winner Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
Dual seasons a burden
After his unsuccessful bid to claim a third consecutive world cyclo-cross championship, Zdenek Stybar has decided with his coach that he will no longer be able to put the same kind of focus on 'cross if he intends to perform well in the road season. Stybar finished 13th in Koksijde.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, his Omega Pharma-Quickstep manager Wilfried Peeters confirmed that Stybar, with his coach Peter Hespel, has decided that combining the two disciplines to the extent he has for the past two years is no longer possible.
"Next season, Stybar will race cyclo-cross only as preparation for the road season. He will still race some 'cross, but will no longer fight for the overall rankings. This year was a good learning experience for him, but the results were a bit disappointing. This is why we decided that the current combination is no longer possible."
Stybar will still race the remainder of the 'cross season, but will then go on a break after the final event in Oostmalle. Peeters said that while last year, Stybar started his road season at the Four Days of Dunkirk at the start of May, his program for the upcoming season has yet to be decided.
"With the combination of the cyclo-cross and road season, he has raced almost continuously for two years. We want to allow him to rest and not to risk sending him too early to the road," Peeters said.
Peeters was critical of Stybar's overly ambitious schedule last December, and while reports surfaced saying he would focus on the road, Stybar quickly came back to explain he would continue to pursue his first love: cyclo-cross.
While the Czech star may not focus on future 'cross domination, he is still going to compete in a few more races this season. After falling ill directly after the world championships in Koksijde, Stybar had doubted his participation for the rest of the season, but said on his personal website that he is starting to feel better and will keep racing.
"For me it was really hard to accept the fact that I couldn't be at 100% on the most important day for my season," Stybar wrote of the world championships. "Unfortunately, it can happen that you get sick and weeks of training go down the tubes in a matter of hours. However, as is in my nature, I'm trying to get over it as soon as possible, and to leave this experience behind me."
"The team and I have agreed to continue racing until the end of the cyclo-cross season. After that I'll focus on the road season. I'm not sure which races I'll do yet. At the moment I'm focusing solely on the remaining crosses. The next races are in Lille and Hoogstraten."