02-Feb-2014: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Zdenek Stybar and Belgian rider Sven Nys battled like prize fighters in the UCI World Cyclocross Championship on Sunday, going blow for blow with each passing lap, taking advantage of their strengths in various parts of the course, and refusing to give up despite crashes and fatigue.
Stybar — who animated the race immediately and eliminated much of the field from contention within a couple laps due to his early efforts — saw his chance on the final lap as Nys began to tire. Nys had a gap on the previous lap, but crashed, which allowed Stybar to get back onto his wheel. Stybar accelerated on a downhill and suddenly, after looking strong throughout the race, it appeared Nys could no longer fight his way back to Styby. Stybar went on to win with a gap of 12″, once again putting on the rainbow jersey as UCI World Cyclocross Champion.
“From the beginning I just thought ‘OK, let’s make the race hard,’ as I had nothing to lose,” Stybar said. “I saw that we were a group of four so I just thought ‘OK I have to go, I have to give everything,’ even if I had a really hard start. I started from 4th or maybe 5th line and I had to go full gas from the start. I had to come back and it was a really big effort for me pretty fast. So I decided to go for it, I was just going to make it hard. Then we were with three, then we were down to two riders, and I was just going to fight for the podium. It’s maybe different when you are a full cyclocross racer and there is a little bit more pressure. I was going from full preparation from the road season to do the UCI World Championship. It almost didn’t feel like it was the world championship except for all of the fans, which they were amazing. I was just enjoying the race and decided to fight for the podium. I had done only six cyclocross races and thought ‘OK, this is a circuit that would suit me and I am just going to try,’ but I really didn’t expect I would be World Champion. This is my third world championship. The first one you can’t compare. It was in front of my home crowd in the Czech Republic, my first one, and until now still the peak of my career. This world championship is of course still really nice and I really appreciate the opportunity to be World Champion again.”