Cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar has ruled out any 'cross racing for the remainder of December and January, according to a statement today on the Etixx-Quickstep website. It also appears very unlikely that Stybar will defend his rainbow jersey on February 1 in Tabor, Czech Republic, after a hard crash at the Eneco Tour in August left him with a severely injured shoulder.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for Zdenek,” said team doctor Yvan Vanmol. “But we also have to be realistic, and the fact is that right now Zdenek is not physically ready for cyclo-cross. An injury of this type requires three months of rehabilitation before you can reacquire complete functional mobility and strength in the muscles of the shoulder cuff. We don’t want to run the risk of the shoulder problems coming back.
“The first priority is Zdenek has to recover 100 per cent mobility in his shoulder,” Vanmol said, “and then we’ll begin laying down the base for next season. One of his goals is to be on his top level in the cobblestone classics, which requires strength in the muscles of his shoulder cuff.”
Stybar, 28, said he was extremely disappointed and “almost emotional” that he won't be starting his cyclo-cross season for the first time in years.
“But to be honest, right now the conditions for taking on this type of competition just aren’t there,” Stybar said. “I’m still recovering from the shoulder injury. The rehabilitation is going well, but the pain in my shoulder isn’t entirely gone. I can work out on the road if I avoid holes and rough asphalt, but I still can’t carry the bike on my shoulder or perform other essential technical maneuvers necessary for a cyclo-cross event.”
Stybar, who was fifth this year at Paris-Roubaix, said the danger of compromising his rehabilitation before the upcoming road season was just too much of a risk. He also commented on the possibility that he could miss the World Championships in his home country.
“I think it will be very difficult for me to be at the start,” Stybar said. “If the race had been held in another country I would have already withdrawn. The fact is that the race will take place in Tabor, in my own Czech Republic. That is where I became a World Champion for the first time, and I have the most extraordinary memories from that circuit. It’s the pick of my career so far. However, the decision is being postponed until the middle of January and will depend a lot on how I feel and how my shoulder is doing. At this moment, the chance to be at the start is very small.”