Deposed world cyclo-cross champion, Zdenek Stybar, will race on the road for WorldTour team, Omega Pharma-Quickstep in 2012.
The Czech rider, crowned world cyclo-cross champion in 2010 and 2011, finished only thirteenth at last Sunday’s world championships in Belgium.
He has since blamed his disappointing ride at Koksijde on a pre-race bout of flu, and said his ill-luck at the biggest race of his season so far had left him feeling bitter.
“For me it was really hard to accept the fact that I couldn’t be at 100% on the most important day for my season. Unfortunately, it can happen that you get sick and weeks of training go down the tubes in a matter of hours. However, as is in my nature, I’m trying to get over it as soon as possible, to leave this experience behind me. The team and I have agreed to continue racing until the end of the cyclo-cross season. After that I’ll focus on the road season,” he said.
Stybar faces a tough challenge in his bid to make his mark among cycling’s elite road cyclists. The Dutch rider, Adri van der Poel, is arguably the most successful rider in both disciplines, with victories on the road in the Amstel Gold Race, the Clasica San Sebastian, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, and two stage wins in the Tour de France achieved before pulling on the rainbow jersey of world cyclo-cross champion in 1996. More recently, the winner of last year’s Tour of Britain, Lars Boom (Rabobank), has achieved success on the road after becoming world cyclo-cross champion in 2008. Boom won the Dutch national cyclo-cross championships earlier this year.
Stybar’s directeur sportif at Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Wilfried Peeters, said the 26-year-old Czech would complete the cyclo-cross season before turning his attentions to the road.
“We decided not to start on the road immediately. Zdenek will calmly finish his cyclo-cross season and then he’ll take a break, after which he’ll start his road racing activities as planned. A period of both physical and mental rest is necessary so he can show up refreshed for his first road races. Zdenek’s road debut for the season still hasn’t been decided. We’ll be discussing his schedule in the next few weeks,” he said.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep is celebrating a successful start to 2012. RCUK columnist, Matt Brammeier, and teammate Gerald Ciolek both showed good form at the season-opening Tour Down Under, while American rider, Levi Leipheimer, sealed overall victory last week at Argentina’s Tour de San Luis after two stage wins from the team’s Italian sprinter, Francesco Chicchi.