Zdenek let his legs do the talking today with a fifth place finish in Namen. Yesterday must have just been a bad day, right? “I think so. I cycled the doubts away and am riding at my normal level again,” Styby said after the fifth round of the World Cup.
The riders faced an especially difficult course in Namen today. There was a large amount of rain this week which meant they’d have to deal with a lot of mud. And the hills around the Namen Citadel didn’t make things any easier.
Tom Meeusen had the best start and rode up front with Francis Mourey for the first two laps. Zdenek intentionally stayed in the background in Sven Nys’s wheel in about sixth or seventh place. He would remain in that position for the next few laps.
Niels Albert made a move just before the half hour mark. The Belgian champion immediately gained a few meters and took Meeusen, Klaas Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels with him, leaving Nys and our Styby a few seconds behind.
But the duo managed to come back and that’s when the race really began. Nys took over the initiative, accelerated and a surprisingly strong Vantornout was able to match his pace. Zdenek looked like he was about to break, but would manage to get back to the lead group and even place an attack of his own.
But his rivals didn’t let him get away as the six riders were evenly matched. The decisive moment wouldn’t come until the last lap when Albert went on the attack again. He would eventually finish in second behind Nys, who won his third World Cup race of the season. Vantournout completed the podium.
The last lap proved to be a bit too much for Zdenek, who finished fifth behind Pauwels. “The doubts are gone,” he said relieved. “I’m happy that I can race at my normal level. I shouldn’t think about skipping any crosses now. Yesterday? That must have just been a bad day.”
“I think I’m back on track now and will get a little better with each race. That’s what I hope at least. In any case I have my self confidece back. I’m already looking forward to Friday’s race in Diegem,” our optimistic Styby said.
Kevin Pauwels lost his leader’s jersey in the general classification to Nys following today’s result. Styby remains in third, but is 60 points behind Nys. The next round of the World Cup takes place in Heusden-Zolder, a couple of days after the Superprestige in Diegem.