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"The €500,000 we offered is a salary only. With starting fees and prize money it could well amount up to €800.000 or even more than that," Telenet-Fidea manager Hans van Kasteren tells Het Nieuwsblad

Photo: Sirotti




29.11.2013 @ 15:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After this year's Paris-Roubaix, Zdenek Stybar turned down a lucrative offer from Telenet-Fidea team manager Hans van Kasteren to return full-time to the cyclo-cross discipline. Despite his decision to remain a road rider, the Czech still plans to do some cross races this winter and will make a last-minute decision about his possible participation in the world championships.


Inspired by Lars Boom's successful transition to the road, Zdenek Stybar made a brave move when he left behind his successful career in cyclo-cross to focus on road racing with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team. Having shown his potential in his first two seasons with the Belgian team, he decided to give the road races his full attention in 2013 and he did very little cyclo-cross racing in the winter 2012/2013.


The gamble paid off for the double cyclo-cross world champion as 2013 was a real breakthrough year for him as a road race. Only bad luck prevented him from finishing on the podium in - or maybe even winning - the Paris-Roubaix and in the autumn, he won two stages and the overall at the Eneco Tour and his first grand tour stage at the Vuelta a Espana.


Last winter he did, however, show that he is still one of the best cyclo-cross racers in the world. He defied expectations by crossing the line in first position when he returned to competition in the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen in late December but was relegated to 4th for irregular sprinting. In the subsequent and highly competitive Christmas period, he proved that he is still a classy cyclo-cross rider when he was 3rd in Heusden-Zolder, 2nd in Loenhout and 3rd in Diegem and he ended his season by winning the national cyclo-cross title.


That kind of results still make him an attractive rider in the off-road world and so it is no wonder that several cyclo-cross managers would love to have him on their roster. Around the time of this year's Paris-Roubaix, Telenet-Fidea manager Hans van Kasteren even offered him a yearly salary of 500,000 euros plus €300,000 to €400,000 in start fees and prize money.


"Stybar still has a huge commercial and sports value in cyclo-cross," van Kasteren told Het Nieuwsblad. "That's why I offered him that salary. The €500,000 we offered is a salary only. With starting fees and prize money it could well amount up to €800.000 or even more than that."


Having come close to a Paris-Roubaix win, it is no wonder that Stybar refused the offer and he went on to have plenty of success in the Eneco Tour and the Vuelta a Espana. He has made it clear that he targets success in the classics in 2014.


Despite his road commitments, Stybar still plans to do some cyclo-cross races during the winter. Like last year, he will start his campaign in Essen on December 21 but he doesn't expect to show the kind of form that allowed him to excel in last year's races.


"My winter will probably look more or less the same as last year," he told "I did seven crosses that year. This year I start my winter stress-free. I don't need to be in shape in December. I had some good results last year that were not necessary. I was good too early but that's not going to happen this year. Because my road season was longer [Stybar finished in the Tour of Beijing] I am not that far yet." 


Last year Stybar's only win came at his national championships but that is unlikely to be the case this year, even if he has the chance to beat the record of most titles. With 7 wins, he is currently tied with Radomir Simonek Senior.


"If I retain my title I’d be the championship record holder, but don't think I’ll start,” Štybar explained. “The race falls in the middle of a training camp with the team, and it’s also on the other side of the Czech Republic. That’s a long way. Probably someone like Martin Bina is the favourite. I might have a chance of winning, but that race would break my preparation for the spring on the road. I have to choose.”


Last year Stybar skipped the world championships as it was held in Louisville in the United States and so required a long travel. This year he may do the championships in Hoogerheide which is located just 12km from his home in Essen. He will, however, not make a decision until the last minute.


"I don't know whether I'll start yet," he said. "That decision must be taken later. If the course is very wet and muddy, I won't go. It's only five days to the start of the Tour of Qatar and I don't want to run around in the mud for 45 minutes then. And if I don't feel well, I won't go either. I won't go to Hoogerheide for a tenth spot. I might not be in top shape but I do want to have a reasonable level."


Stybar actually participates in his first cyclo-cross race today when he lines up at the Boonen and Friends charity race.



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