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"So from a ride like that, learning from a Classics legend like Tom, you save maybe two years. Because I could ride this course 10 times and still not learn it as I would from someone like him. I would never learn it in the experience...

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele




05.02.2014 @ 17:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days after winning the cyclo-cross championships, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was again focusing on his road career when he did a course recon of the Tour of Flanders with Tom Boonen and Iljo Keisse. Having little experience in the classics, the Czech described the three-time Flanders winner Boonen as the perfect teacher for the hardest one-day races.


Zdenek Stybar made a last-minute decision to ride the cyclo-cross world championships but managed to come away with the goods when he beat Sven Nys in a close battle. However, his focus remains on the road and on Tuesday he was back in preparation for the cobbled classics when he did a recon of the Tour of Flanders course with Tom Boonen and Iljo Keisse.


Stybar has only done one full road season and has only done the classics once. While he failed to feature at the pointy end of the Tour of Flanders, only a late incident with a spectator denied him a podium spot and possibly a win in the Paris-Roubaix. However, experience counts for a lot in the hard one-day races and he relished the opportunity to learn from Boonen's vast experience.


" Training on the roads of Ronde van Vlaanderen today, it went really good," he said. "I'm happy that I have done it because now for the first time I have it already in my mind. I have changed from the cyclo-cross sphere to the road sphere. I can go and work hard again. I know what I have to do. I feel pretty good, finally today I could be again on the bike so I could ride a little of the tiredness and fatigue out of the legs. I'm really happy that I could sweat again.


"The first two hours I was really suffering," he added. "I was tired. But at the end I felt nice, comfortable, and had an overall good feeling. I rode on my Specialized CruX as all my other bikes, my road bikes, are in Mallorca. But anyway, I was happy I could do one last ride on my cyclo-cross bike."


"From what I have seen today riding with Tom Boonen, he is more than ready for the Classics, he said. "He is so motivated and you know most of the time, when the leader is ready, the whole team is ready. Tom was telling me about all of the small details. Where it is good to get in front, where it is good to take it easy, and where there is small packs what you can take. He also told me where the wind is coming most of the time, to relax, and things like that.


"These are things I can never learn on my own. Those are things you have to learn in the race. So from a ride like that, learning from a Classics legend like Tom, you save maybe two years. Because I could ride this course 10 times and still not learn it as good as I would from someone like him. I would never learn it in the experience of the race. So, this is really the proof of the race and I couldn't have a better person to learn from. 


"As for my participation in a race like Tour of Flanders or any of the Cobbled Classics, first we must see how my shape will develop and then we will see. We will decide with the team."


Stybar also took the time to reflect on his cyclo-cross world championships.


"I was enjoying the race duel with Sven Nys," he said. "I knew that before the race I had nothing to lose. I was really fresh and I was absolutely relaxed. I wasn't nervous so I was enjoying it, and also the crowd was so amazing.


"I think something of the kind of spirit of the world championships is something you can only experience two times of year: The first being the World Championship of cyclo-cross and the second one is Tour of Flanders. I think there's nothing else to compare. There are 50,000 people yelling, and it is really something serious and special. I'm really proud of have won the UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships with an amazing atmosphere like that."

Stybar will now turn his attention to his first road races.


"As for my next objectives, from tomorrow I am travelling to Mallorca which is also my first race on my road," he said. "From there I am going directly to Oman and after that I will start my first two classics here in Belgium [Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne]."



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