After months of speculation, cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar has joined the Belgian ProTeam Quick Step squad, the team announced today. The 25-year-old Czech signed with Quick Step on Monday, January 24, but will continue with his current team, Telenet-Fidea, through the end of cyclo-cross season. Stybar will officially join Quick Step on March 1 and will make his race debut in May at either the Amgen Tour of California or the Tour of Belgium.
"Personally it's a dream come true," said Stybar. "I'm very happy and excited to race with team Quick Step, one of the best teams in the world. This is an important step in my professional life that will offer me many opportunities and open doors for me into the professional world. I'm still trying to absorb what's happened.
"I've won a lot in cyclo-cross, but I really wanted to try this experience. I'm 25 years old, and right now it's time for me to try to understand what I can do on the road. This doesn't mean I'll be quitting 'cross. I love this sport and intend to keep at it. I'm also thrilled for the chance to defend my country's colours in the mountain bike race in the 2012 London Olympics."
For the moment, however, Stybar is focused on defending his elite men's cyclo-cross world championship on Sunday in St-Wendel, Germany, the site of his first world title in 2005. "I'm going to do my best to win it, for me and Telenet-Fidea team," said Stybar. "I'll never forget the time I spent with this squad. I started with them in 2005, right there in St. Wendel where I became Under 23 world champion, and I'll be ending my experience with them once again in that little German town. I'd love to leave this important prize as a gift to the team and to our sponsors."
Team manager Patrick Lefevere is pleased to have the Czech rider on the team. "Zdenek is a talented guy whose skills will surely raise the team's technical level," said Lefevere. "For our part we're going to try to help him as best we can to approach this new world without burning any stages and without too much pressure, with a schedule that also takes into consideration a learning phase."