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"I was in front, but I also knew that Tom was behind with Niki. There was no reason for me to pull. I was just following, " Zdenek Stybar said.

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele








14.04.2014 @ 08:30 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Zdenek Stybar appeared to be the strongest Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider in the decisive part of the Queen of Classics yesterday, when Tom Boonen proved unable to make a difference in a breakaway and Niki Terpstra struggling to rejoin the from group. However, the Czech rider refused to cooperate as a part of a strong breakaway – certainly not relishing the appearance of fast finishers Sagan (Cannondale) or Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), and eventually it was the 29-year old Dutchman to finish it off inside the last 10 kilometers.


However, yesterday’s fifth place taken in Paris-Roubaix taken by Stybar has to be called improvement, it left the 28-year old Czech with mixed feelings as he hoped for more with a condition presented in the Hell of the North and claimed that it as well could have been his attack which had proved victorious.


"I'm happy I was able to confirm that I can ride the finale in the hardest races of the world, but of course every year you want a little bit more. Now I improved one place so I have five years to go," said Stybar, laughing. "I always had the legs for a better result. I was always there, but didn't get great results. Today I'm fifth but [making] the podium would've been better. It came down to a sprint and that's always a lottery."


"I'm pleased that someone from our team won the race. It was a very hard race to control. It was the perfect moment [for Terpstra] to go. He came from behind and went immediately. You could see that there was nobody with the legs to close the gap."


While it would have had to be everything for Boonen if the race had been decided from a bunch sprint, both Stybar and Terpstra were allowed to use their strength in numbers and play their own cards in the group of otherwise isolated favorites, and it was the latter who picked the right moment and saved enough power to make it to the finish line. It ws obvious, however, that Czech rider also had the opportunity to attack late in the race.


"As you could see, you have to go on a good place at the right moment. Then everything is possible. We were there with three guys and then it's just [about picking] the moment to go. Niki was really strong because doing five kilometres alone is not really easy."


Before the decisive move was launched by the 29-year old Dutchman with less than 7 kilometers to go, Stybar was a part of a strong five-man breakaway with the likes of Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), John Degenkolb and Peter Sagan. Although with a good cooperation of all riders the group could have made it to the finale, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step was aware that the presence of fast finishers radically reduces chances of the latter three for a podium spot. Thus, the cyclo-cross champion refused to take his turns and opted for playing a team game instead, aware that both Boonen and Terpstra were in the leaders group behind his back.


"I was in front, but I also knew that Tom was behind with Niki. There was no reason for me to pull. I was just following. I was always trying to break the group, so that it would stop or when someone went, it was a good opportunity to just follow and come to the group in front," Stybar said.


"Exactly," Stybad replied for a suggestion that Degenkolb and Sagan weren’t exactly the companions of his dreams.


Even though Stybar hoped for more than fifth place in the Paris-Roubaix, the 28-year old Czech was pleased to prove his quality as a classics rider with consistent performances throughout whole spring stint on cobbles.


"Already since Paris-Nice, I'm in good shape. I could follow them. There were always some gaps which I had to close, so I was never really in their wheel. It cost me a lot of energy but I always did it. I was always with them when they tried to get in the breakaway. It makes me happy that I could follow the best guys in the race."


Unlike most of the cobbled classics specialists, ambitious Stybar won’t take any break and is set to participate in the Brabantse Pjil on Wednesday before heading to the Amstel Gold Race next weekend. However the Czech rider certainly has what it takes to shine in Ardennes, the transition may prove difficult with most riders preparing exclusively for those events.


"Normally I do the Amstel. Now it's difficult. My whole body is shaking. You never know how it will go, but I want to try. It will be hard to recover and make the transition from the cobbles to the Amstel, but I think I will succeed. Tomorrow I will go there to check and I will train there on my climbs. I hope I will be ready for Amstel. We will have a very strong team."



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