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"I'm getting a little bit closer to the finale which is important for me and as I said, in some races you need to be lucky," Zdenek Stybar said.

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

NIKI TERPSTRA

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN

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ZDENEK STYBAR

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07.04.2014 @ 11:48 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Zdenek Stybar, considered a strong outsider to excel in the cobbled monuments this season, has been given a free role within the Omega Pharma-Quick Step ranks for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but eventually couldn’t make a difference for the Belgian team as he didn’t manage to follow Cancellara’s decisive move, exactly like his co-captains Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra.

 

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team was expected to be the one to beat in yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen and everything seemed to be going well for the Belgian WorldTour outfit, as they managed to cover every important move and were a dominative force in the 13-rider decisive group. However, their unquestionable strength in numbers was turned into nothing when Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) joined by Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Procycling) launched his decisive attack and none of their leaders was able to follow the powerful duo.

 

"We were the strongest team until the Oude Kwaremont. That doesn't buy us anything. Only winning matters. No mistakes were made but the others were better. We rode well all race long but couldn't make the difference," team manager Patrick Lefevere admitted after the race.

 

Tom Boonen clearly struggled hard on the Oude Kwaremont, but Stybar and Terpstra were also unable to match the pace of Cancellara and Vanmarcke. Even though the 29-year old Dutchman, arguably the strongest Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider at the moment, tried to chase the frond quartet on the flat section it was too late to make a difference.

 

Stybar didn’t try to hide his disappointment following the race, but admitted to have learned an important lesson and insisted that the strategy deployed by the Belgian team was right while leaders simply lacked legs to make a good use of an advantageous situation.

 

"It's always a bit of a lottery and you never really know how it will develop as a race," Stybar explained to Cyclingnews after the race.

 

"Now I'm really tired but at the end, I was still pretty good on the Paterberg next to Niki [Terpsta] but on the flat part, Niki went and then Tom went so it was just jumping from group to group and I didn't ride behind my teammates."

 

"On the Kwaremont I couldn't go. I saw Cancellara going but he was maybe four of five places in front of me and I didn't know if I was in the wheel. If I could go, it would be difficult and I didn't think I could follow."

 

With Stijn Vandenbergh the only Omega Pharma-Quick Step man up the road, rather a reliable lieutenant than a classics rider to play monument’s finale with, and leaders lacking power to take off, the chances for a podium result for the Belgian team significantly decreased following the last hellingen of De Ronde.

 

However, Stybar insisted that with almost 40 kilometers to go the huge Oudenaarde-born cyclist was a right man to cover Van Avermaet’s attack and that in such cases luck is an equally important factor as carefully elaborated pre-race strategy.

 

"At the moment, it was also pretty difficult [and] Stijn made the right decision to get away and then it's difficult to ride behind a teammate but we were always in a good position. Afterwards the group got bigger and bigger as some riders came back. Then on the Kwaremont, Cancellara and Vanmarcke, the two strongest guys, just rode away."

 

"Stijn deserved to be there. He is very strong and has a good sprint. But it's difficult to react in that situation, with 30-40km to go. Everyone was jumping around, everyone was go on the attack and everyone was trying to go up the road. You don't know who'll be in the breakaway and how far you'll get so it's a lottery."

 

"Stijn has been very good all spring and he was in the right place at the right moment. OK he didn't finish it off but he was there and of course, it would be better to have someone who has a better sprint. But it is what it is."

 

Despite a disappointing showing in the Ronde van Vlaanderen yesterday, the cyclo-cross world champion was pleased with his progress on the hilly Flemish parcours and will line up as one of the favorites to take the spoils at the Paris-Roubaix next week, on the route certainly better suited to his characteristics.

 

"I think I made another step forward," he said.

 

"I'm getting a little bit closer to the finale which is important for me and as I said, in some races you need to be lucky."

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