Zdenek Stybar has turned down an offer from Telenet-Fidea to return to cyclo-cross with the team. The Czech rider was offered €500,000 per year plus €300,000 to €400,000 in start fees and prize money, Het Nieuwsblad reports. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider turned down the offer to keep focusing on a road racing career.
Telenet-Fidea manager Hans van Kasteren told Het Nieuwsblad that he made Stybar the offer around the time of Paris-Roubaix, where the Czech played an important role in the final but saw his chances of victory disappear after a collision with a spectator. "Stybar still has a huge commercial and sports value in cyclo-cross. That's why I offered him that salary."
Stybar said no to the proposal, even though it would mean he could earn more than what he earns at Omega Pharma-QuickStep. "The €500,000 we offered is a salary only. With starting fees and prize money it could well amount up to €800.000 or even more than that," Van Kasteren clarified.
The 27-year old rider wants to invest in his road racing career which started in 2011 with Quick Step. This year became his breakthrough season with two stage victories and the overall win in the Eneco Tour. He also won the seventh stage in the Vuelta and finished sixth in Paris - Roubaix. Stybar's ambition is to win the Tour of Flanders.
Stybar hasn't said goodbye to cyclo cross forever, however. In his teammate Tom Boonen's charity cross on Friday, a race he won last year, he'll ride against road pro cyclists like Jan Bakelants, Thomas de Gendt, Jakob Fuglsang Wout Poels and many of his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates, including Niki Terpstra. The former double world cyclo-cross champion will also ride the BPost Trophy in his hometown of Essen on the 21st of December.
"My winter will probably look more or less the same as last year," Stybar said to cyclo-cross.info. "I did seven crosses that year. This year I start my winter stress-free. I don't need to be in shape in December. I had some good results last year that were not necessary. I was good too early but that's not going to happen this year. Because my road season was longer [Stybar finished in the Tour of Beijing] I am not that far yet [in my build-up towards the new season]."
Stybar holds two U23 world titles and back-to-back elite cyclo cross titles in Tábor in 2010 and Sankt Wendel in 2011. This year the Czech rider didn't go to the Worlds because of its location in Louisville, United States. In 2014, the championships take place in Hoogerheide, a mere 12 kilometers from his home in Essen.
"I don't know whether I'll start yet. That decision must be taken later. If the course is very wet and muddy, I won't go. It's only five days to the start of the Tour of Qatar and I don't want to run around in the mud for 45 minutes then. And if I don't feel well, I won't go either. I won't go to Hoogerheide for a tenth spot. I might not be in top shape but I do want to have a reasonable level," Stybar concluded.