Our World Champion's winning streak continues. Zdenek made it seven wins from seven races this season by winning the second round of the World Cup, held in Plzen, Czech Republic. This keeps Styby firmly atop the World Cup standings.
A week after Aigle, the cyclocross world headed to the Czech Republic where Zdenek would defend his World Cup lead just a stone's throw away from his home in Stribro. The course was relatively dry, but heavy winds ensured that it would be a tough race.
Niels Albert went to the front during the first lap. Last year's winner and Zdenek quickly gained about 10 meters on the rest. Only a very strong Kevin Pauwels, Zdenek's teammate at Telenet Fidea, could bridge the gap during the second lap.
The lead group's advantage over the rest of the field grew with each lap. Behind them, Sven Nys, who performed better than last week, fought for a place in the top five in a group that included Francis Mourey, Klaas Vantornout and Bart Aernouts. But the race wasn't decided until the closing phase when the favorite went on the attack.
Zdenek got out of the saddle on the turn leading to the slightly uphill finish and put Pauwels under pressure during the second to last lap. Albert couldn't keep up with the fierce pace but was able to solidify his third place. Our man headed toward the final lap with Pauwels and attacked again just before the bell rang.
Styby was able to break away from Pauwels and went in search of his seventh win of the season. Pauwels looked as though he was stuck in park, but had a valid excuse, “I had a flat,” the man from Kalmthout said, “But I don't blame Zdenek. I would have done the same thing.”
Styby didn't wait and gave the crowd exactly what they came to see: a Czech victory. “The atmosphere was super,” according to a happy Zdenek, “I saw my sister and Amalka during the race. Moments like those are rare and I won't forget them anytime soon. This was the most fun cross so far this season. I'd like to thank everyone who came out. It was a great!”
“It was a difficult race,” he continued. “I had a hard time about halfway through. The legs didn't feel good, but I got through it. Kevin was really strong today. I saw that he had a flat just before the last lap, but I just couldn't and shouldn't wait in that situation.”
A seventh win was the result. “I have a 100% victory rate, but I'm not thinking about that. Of course it would have been a shame not to win in front of the home crowd, but when the time comes that I don't win, it won't keep me up at night. Everyone knows that moment will come. But let's enjoy this victory first.”
The next race on the calendar is this Thursday in Tabor. “A great idea. I hope that this will make the cross more international again, even if Tabor is held on a lesser date. But I'm looking forward to it. Niels Albert is coming too so it'll be exciting.”