Former cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar has decided after all to take the start at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide on Sunday. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider made the call after turning a lap of the course on Thursday.
"I'm in good condition," Stybar said. "I came from important training sessions in Mallorca and I'm ready to compete. I like the parcours even if today I couldn't really train on all of it. As I said a few weeks ago, if I decide to do Worlds it is because I feel that I can do well. The podium would be a great result even if the competitors are really strong, especially Sven Nys who showed his class in the last races. I will do my best to be competitive."
Stybar is primarily focussed on the road season, in particular looking to improve upon his sixth place finish in Paris-Roubaix of last year, but is not quite willing to entirely give up his first passion - cyclo-cross. After winning the 'cross in Bredene in December, Stybar said he would consider riding the Worlds but only if the course suited him.
Recent rains have made portions of the course muddy, and more precipitation - probably heavy - is predicted for Saturday. "Normally the parcours would be hard because of the rain the last few days. I like these kind of conditions even if I hope it won't rain on Sunday," he said. "From today till the last day of the race, I won't do much following some decent training in Mallorca. I will take advantage of the next days to recover a bit and find a good set up and feeling with my bike."
Defending world champion Sven Nys had speculated yesterday that Stybar would ride after the Belgian spotted him in Mallorca doing hill intervals.
Stybar said, "I'm looking forward to the race. Worlds are always special and they gave me a lot of notoriety in the past."