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"I knew it was all or nothing. To beat the world champion was very difficult but I perfectly launched my sprint. It doesn’t matter if I won by one centimeter or one millimeter, I’ve won!"

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson

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30.08.2013 @ 22:14 Posted by Mark Ellegaard

The relatively flat 205,9 km stage was set for a last bunch sprint before the mountains and with a three-man breakaway, controlled firmly by the sprinter teams in the peloton, it became somewhat of a cozy transportation day for most of the riders. But with about 10 kilometers to go things spiced up when world champion Philippe Gilbert got away with former cyclocross world champion Zdenek Stybar. The duo managed to hold off the sprinters and so the Czech rider could claim his first Grand Tour stage win ever.

 

“It was just full gas. I was in a very good situation because we were going for a sprint for Gianni Meersman. But with 100km to go, I called my team car and told the directeur sportif that shall there be a breakaway, I wanted to give it a try, which would make it comfortable for the team too.”

 

“However, before doing anything, I wanted to see the course first as we passed once on the finishing line. As we did it, I was sure there would be a breakaway. I was ready to move. I thought more guys would escape but there was only Philippe Gilbert and myself. Fabian Cancellara tried as well but didn’t bridge the gap. In the last kilometer, I tried to stay cool. I felt the peloton not far behind us.

I knew it was all or nothing. To beat the world champion was very difficult but I perfectly launched my sprint. It doesn’t matter if I won by one centimeter or one millimeter, I’ve won!” Stybar explains after today's win.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Tony Martin were about to take a fantastic win yesterday, when the German powerhouse made a solo attack and no one was able to join him . Unfortunately he was reeled in inside the final 100m, ending a disappointing day for the team. Martin's effort yesterday played a big role today.

 

“Yesterday was an amazing day for us. In the last five kilometers, we were supporting Tony through the radio. We should have been disappointed after the finish but we hugged him as he nearly made it. He could be a legend. It was really hard to accept that he didn’t win but the atmosphere in the team was a motivating factor for all of us.”

 

Zdenek Stybar has had quite a season so far, despite his four months of absence, taking two stages and the overall win at the Eneco Tour and now adding a stage win in a Grand Tour to his road race palmarès.

 

“I’m really happy that every year, I make a small progression, but it’s been a really tough season for me so far. After Paris-Roubaix, my shape was good. I was disappointed but I closed the case. Then I had a surgery in my right knee that left me without any competition for four months. I was in a situation of being unable to plan anything, but the week prior to the Tour of Poland, I realized that everything was fine. I’m fresher than most of the other riders. To be able to score at Eneco Tour was an enormous satisfaction but most importantly it means that I continue my progression”

 

“I won my first stage race and two stages, almost three, in the World Tour a few days ago at the Eneco Tour. But I hadn’t recovered when I came to the Vuelta. I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win the team time trial and I was suffering in the first few stages. I was hoping for a stage victory but I didn’t expect to make it so fast on the seventh day. As we always come to races with plans and hopes, it really means a lot to me to win a stage in a Grand Tour.”

 

Stybar made the transition from cyclocross to road race in 2011 and from that point he has surprised himself and most of the road race world.

 

“Sometimes like at the Eneco Tour, I still surprise myself. When I switched from cyclo-cross to road racing, it was with the goal of winning Spring classics. I want to reach my goals there before I think further. But I definitely feel that I’m on the right path.”

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