Czech cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar claimed his third consecutive victory and his biggest win to date in the Koksijde World Cup on Saturday. Just one week after taking his first win of the season at the GvA Trophy in Hasselt, Belgium, followed by a win in the Hamme Zogge Superprestige race, the 23-year-old was on top again in the sprint.
Stybar bested Belgians Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout in the sprint, while world champion Niels Albert and Francis Mourey rolled in for fourth and fifth in the leading group.
The victory was not only Stybar's third of the season and his second career elite World Cup win, it was an important step up toward his goal of winning an elite world title.
"Unbelievable", said Zdenek after the race. "I don’t have any words for it. I’m just very happy. Three wins in a row is very special. In a few years [2012, ed.] the world championship is in Koksijde, so I look forward to it."
Twice an under-23 world champion, Stybar has struggled in the sand in the past. But after his strong performance in Koksijde, he no longer fears the coastal 'cross races.
"Winning here is very important because it's like breaking through a barrier," he said. "Now I don't have to be afraid of my rivals on these courses."
The ebullient Czech rider has accumulated plenty of fans over the past few years, and back home he's sure there will be plenty of partying.
"Last week my fans opened 12 bottles of Champagne on Saturday," he told sport.be. "Sunday, after my victory in Hamme-Zogge, 15. I will tell you tomorrow how many bottles were cracked."
There is no time for Stybar to join in the party, as he will try to gain the overall lead in the Superprestige series on Sunday in Gieten. He trails Niels Albert and Sven Nys by a slim one point margin, but is not banking on another win tomorrow. "Four for four? Three for three is already beautiful. Nothing remains. Now I will race without pressure."
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