Zdenek Stybar's Belgian rivals Niels Albert and Sven Nys have led praise for the Czech rider as he closed to within one point of the Superprestige series lead by claiming the fourth round of the eight race competition in Hamme-Zogge, Belgium on Sunday.
Albert and Nys acknowledged Stybar's stellar weekend as he recorded his maiden victories in both the GvA Trofee and Superprestige cyclo-cross series on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The two Belgians now share a joint lead in the Nissan-sponsored Superprestige with 56 points, while Stybar's win on Sunday moved him up from 40 to 55 points.
"After I won on Saturday in Hasselt I didn't dare to think about doing it again on Sunday," Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) told Sporza. "But I was feeling even better than Saturday and I saved myself for the final lap and a potential sprint today. In the final moments of the race, I was a bit scared, because after [the World Cup in] Nommay I thought wasn't sprinting very well. It obviously turned out for the best."
Stybar's change in fortune contrasted significantly with that of BKCP Powerplus rider Niels Albert. The cyclo-cross World Champion was relegated to third at the GP Hasselt on Saturday and was dropped by the race leaders on Sunday to finish off the podium for the first time this season.
Despite his frustration, Albert was quick to recognize the performances of Stybar throughout the weekend. "This is a big disappointment, of course. I didn't have a super day," he said to Sporza on Sunday. "But that doesn't detract anything from Stybar's victories. He was the best at both races."
Albert's also dismissed any suggestion that the weekend's disappointments would unsettle him."'Will this weekend play on my mind?' No, next week there are another two beautiful races and tomorrow will be like any other Monday."
Nys' second place finish to Stybar in Hamme-Zogge saw him profit from Albert's fourth place result and inch his way into a share of the Superprestige standings. He too was left frustrated in Stybar's wake, but drew pleasure from the three-way battle that has emerged at the top end of the cyclo-cross world.
"I'm on top form, there was just one a little faster today," said Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) on Sunday, who won the opening round of the Superprestige series last month. "It was a show for the people and that's important. Now we'll have a three man fight to the very last round."
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