Zdenek finished third in the Superpresige race in Diegem on Monday. An excellent performance considering this was our world champion's first race in a month after an injury kept him sidelined. The victory went to Niels Albert who finished ahead of Sven Nys.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” was the word before the start. And that very evident. With a smile on his face Zdenek pinned the familiar number 1 on his jersey, something he hasn't been able to do for a month due to a knee injury.
The long awaited comeback took place in Diegem. The race organizers probably didn't spend much time at home during the holidays as this night cross, which started in the dark at 5:30 pm, needed 75 light poles placed around the course at a cost of 30,000 euros. But that wasn't something Styby needed to worry about.
Zdenek got off to a flying start and was the first rider to dive into the snow-covered field. “All the built up adrenaline from the past month gave me a gap,” he admitted. “It was pure enjoyment during the first lap until I hit the ground.”
The fall cost our champion the leader's position and he was forced to take his foot off the gas. Styby dropped back to tenth, but was able to make up some ground later in the race. Local riders Albert and Nys didn't look back and went on a two-man time trial.
The pair quickly gained a 30 second lead on the Telenet-Fidea train which included Rob Peeters, Bart Wellens, Kevin Pauwels and Tom Meeusen. Zdenek was able to catch up with the group after a good half hour and slowly but surely worked his way up to third – a position he wouldn't relinquish.
Albert and Nys went into the last lap together and the Belgian champion was forced to concede defeat after a mechanical problem in the final few hundred meters. The victory went to the BKCP man for the second year in a row as Albert celebrated his first Superprestige victory of the season. Nys was extremely disappointed, but the day's number three was overjoyed.
“This is like a victory,” Zdenek said after the race. “I know that I started a little too fast and I paid for it. My fall? I think that was due to my time away. Maybe I lost a bit technically, but that will come back.”
And now? “I don't want to worry anyone, but I have a small wound from my fall. But if all goes well I'll start in Loenhout on Wednesday. Bredene, Ball and Tervuren follow soon after that. We're off and running again!”