Zdenek got the green light to start today's GVA race in Loenhout. And he put in another great performance just as he did two days ago in Diegem. Niels Albert won the race ahead of Sven Nys and Styby finished third, just ahead of Kevin Pauwels, who remains the overall leader in the series.
It was an anxious wait for Zdenek after his fall during the night cross in Diegem. “Will I be able to start Wednesday,” he quietly wondered. But those doubts were erased on Tuesday with a Twitter post. “Hey Lars, I put on a bigger cassette so I can keep up with you.”
That's right, for the first time in more than a season Zdenek went up against former world champion Lars Boom. And Boom was the man to beat following his world cup victory in Heusden-Zolder last Sunday. But he didn't have his best day and ended up finishing back in 11th.
Gerben de Knegt didn't have a great day either. The Dutchman had a painful fall at the start and immediately fell behind the pack. Styby on the other hand was first into the field and once again proudly showed off his rainbow jersey at the front of the race. The lead didn't last long though as the difficult course, which had turned into a pool of mud, provided a lot of challenges for the riders and their equipment.
A flat during the second lap disrupted Styby's good start and Nys took advantage of the situation. At the end of that lap the Belgian champion gained a point in the overall standings on Pauwels, who was joined by a surprisingly strong Philipp Walsleben and Niels Albert, who had a bad start. The trio was able to bridge the gap to 'the cannibal' with the help of our resurgent world champion.
The group of five didn't stay together for long however. Zdenek had a problem with his click pedal and Nys and Albert rode away from the rest of the field just as they did in Diegem. The race looked like it was going to end in a sprint until Nys crashed in the pit area during the last lap. Albert took advantage of the mistake and deservedly booked his second victory in a row.
Styby was able to hold off teammate Pauwels to finish third. “That was the best possible result today,” our favorite admitted. “The race was hard with few areas to recover. I made a lot of mistakes, but that's normal after only riding on the road for a month. I had some bad luck with a flat and problems with my pedals. But I think Niels was the best of the three of us even though Sven has had a lot of bad luck lately.”
Despite missing the race in Essen, Zdenek is currently third in the overall GVA Trophy standings. “But I'm not thinking about that,” he said. “I'll be really satisfied if I finish in the top three. I'm taking things race by race and am looking forward to tomorrow. The cross in Bredene isn't part of an overall series and that should make it a bit easier to win. But we'll see.”