After much speculation about which races would land on Zdenek Stybar's limited cyclo-cross programme this winter, the three-time world champion announced today that he would do but a single race - the 50th GP Rouwmoer in Essen on Saturday, December 5. Stybar has a strong connection to the local community after having been based there for much of his career.
Stybar said in a team press release that he had to limit his off-road pursuits after finding himself behind schedule in his preparation for the road season with Etixx-Quickstep.
"After the Boonen and Friends Charity Event, I talked with my team and agreed that I wouldn't do any cyclo-cross event this season, except Essen, and instead turn my attention to road training prior to the next season," Stybar said.
"If I compare my condition with the one I had last year I have to say that I'm a little bit behind schedule, which was obvious also last week-end in the Boonen and Friends Cyclo-cross."
Stybar made the transition from a highly successful cyclo-cross career to the road with the Quickstep organisation in 2011, after his second world title. He has raced only a handful of events each year since, and in 2014 he won his third world championship.
But after winning Strade Bianche and coming second in Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke this season, Stybar has had to sacrifice any ambitions in cyclo-cross for a shot at an elusive Spring Classic victory.
"For me it's a tough decision, because everybody knows how much I'm fond of this discipline, but I don't want to race a cyclo-cross calendar without being in good condition, because it would be disrespectful for the organizers and the fans.
"I'm glad to ride Essen and meet my supporters there, as I have some great memories from this race and many friends there. Then, after Saturday, I will focus on my preparation for the road season joining my team in Denia for the first training camp of the season."