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"It was my own initiative. In two days, I spent about 16 hours in the wind tunnel. It could also have been another place in the United States. There are very few tunnels, and most are occupied by Formula 1 teams," Stybar...

Photo: Sirotti




27.10.2013 @ 17:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Zdenek Stybar has had a breakthrough season on the road in 2013 and the Czech is now planning an assault on the classics in 2014. He plans to spend his winter break by improving his position via wind tunnel testing and doing some cyclo-cross racing where he evens considers doing the World Championships.


Former world cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar made a gamble when he put his off-road career on hold to sign a contract with Omega Pharma-Quick Step and make a dedicated effort to become a road star. He showed great promises in 2011 and 2012 but lacked the final bit to compete with the best in the biggest races.


Prior to the 2013 Stybar made the decision to do a limited cross schedule to fully focus on the classics and that proved to be a wise decision. This season has been a breakthrough for the talented Czech who has repeatedly showed his talents.


His first major performance came at the Paris-Roubaix where he was well-positioned in the lead group before going down in a crash on the feared Carrefour de l'Arbre pavé with less than 20km to go. Having had to settle for 6th, he was left wondering what might have been if he had had more luck in his debut in the biggest classics of them all.


A knee operation put his season on a hold but he was back at his best for the final half where he two stages and the overall at the Eneco Tour before going on to beat Philippe Gilbert in a two-man sprint in the Vuelta a Espana. Having ended his season in the Tour of Beijing, he has already started to plan the next steps that should see him make further progress in 2014.


From China he flew directly to the United States where he did some wind tunnel testing to improve his position on the bike.


 "It was my own initiative," he told "In two days, I spent about 16 hours in the wind tunnel. It could also have been another place in the United States. There are very few tunnels, and most are occupied by Formula 1 teams. If I had wanted to go to a tunnel in England where they test the McLaren cars, it would have been impossible. It would have been too expensive."


From the United States, he travelled to Paris where he participated in the first gathering of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team for the 2014 season.


"We tried our new clothing and discussed our season plans," he said. "I told the staff team which races I would like to ride and now they make a schedule. But what is certain is that the first half of the season will focus on the classics."


Now it is time for a vacation with his girlfriend but it will be a short one. Firstly, he still plans to do some cyclo-cross racing in the winter. Secondly, he doesn't like to stay away from the bike for too long.


"I don't like the off-season because you lose all your fitness and have to start from scratch," he said.


Last year Stybar competed in a limited number of cyclo-cross races and this winter he plans to have a similar schedule. However, he may include the world championships in Hoogerheide after having skipped the battle for the rainbow jersey in 2013 when it was held across the Atlantic in the United States.


"It will be similar to last year," he said. "I guess I'll do five races, maybe even the national championship."


"It [the Worlds] is still far away," he said. "The world championships attract me but I will not make a decision until the last minute. It depends on how I feel and my road schedule as I may have to start the new stage race in Dubai in the beginning of February. We'll see."


Last year Stybar started his cyclo-cross season on December 22. 



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