Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma QuickStep) completed a dominant performance at the Eneco Tour with a win on the final day of racing. The stage win also netted the former cyclo-cross world champion the overall honours, and the Czech rider described the events as one of the best days of his life.
"I am really happy and it is like a dream for me to come to the Eneco Tour to win two stages, almost three, and the GC.”
Stybar certainly had to work for his final day win and overall title, but much of the groundwork was carried out by his team. They sent Guillaume Van Keirsbulck into the early break and Sylvain Chavanel launched a vicious attack later on in order to isolate overnight leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Argos-Shimano). With the peloton suitably softened up it was left to Stybar to finish the job.
The Czech attacked on the penultimate climb of the day, bridging over to lone leader Ian Stannard before dispatching the Briton on the final ascent.
“Today the stage wasn't so easy, but when Chava went away with small group on the Kwaremont I said 'OK perfect, I have to only to stay on wheels and see what's happened'. But when we caught the group, I understood probably I had a chance to win Eneco Tour. I knew the last climb, Denderoordberg, was really hard. To me it was the only way to go for the win. It wasn't in my head to wait for the final sprint so I decided it was everything or nothing on the climb,” he said.
“I tried my maximum and I did it. When I went, a few kilometers after my attack I found Stannard in front. I really didn't know he was there. It was really great to find a rider like him. We worked well together — to be honest even he would have deserved the victory. But when I was there I was only focused and concentrated on gaining seconds for the GC, so I really went for it. Until the last meters I went a bloc for the GC."
Stybar was out in June due to knee surgery, but despite that and the subsequent three weeks off the bike he has enjoyed an improved season on the road. The plan to ride a maiden Grand Tour in 2012 in order to improve his stamina seems to have paid off. He finished 6th in Paris-Roubaix earlier this year and rode the Tour of Poland last month to complete his comeback.
"It's really a big step for me after a very hard period, a lot of time alone in training," Stybar said. "Now I am happy. I have to thank my family, my girlfriend and the team who was always near me. To me it's like a surprise, to be the winner of this race. But I was probably fresher than other riders at this moment. I didn't ride the Tour, but I think everything happens for a reason. It's the motto of my life. I had a little bad luck at the beginning of the season, and probably without this injury I would have rode the Tour. But I didn't so now I am fresh and the bad luck is away, so I am happy."