Styby finished second in today’s World Cup race in Heusden-Zolder. It was a surprising result for the world champion. “I didn’t expect that before the race. I’m pleased, but more disappointed because I just fell short of the win.”
The course was muddy after a week of rain. The riders were battling for position; there were crashes and lots of trips to the pits for bike changes today. The first lap was dominated by Kevin Pauwels, who was looking for his third World Cup victory of the season.
His main rival, Sven Nys, got in his wheel and it looked as though the two riders were on their own. But Zdenek managed to join them after the second lap. Our man went in search of the leaders together with a surprisingly strong Lars Boom and Bart Wellens. And the group of five were away for good.
Nys and Pauwels kept forcing the pace, while the rest of the group, including Styby, did their best to hang on. The breaking point for Boom and Wellens would come just before the half hour mark and Zdenek hung on by the skin of his teeth. A little while later there was another attack.
Zdenek tried to capitalize on the rivalry between the top two riders in the World Cup standings, but neither of them was going to give up without a fight. Even a second and third acceleration didn’t make a difference and the trio went into the last lap together.
With a final prolonged attack, Zdenek tried to secure the win. “For a moment I thought it looked good, when we went into the final straightaway. But Kevin wasn’t as far behind me as I thought. Maybe I made a mistake there.”
Pauwels won the race by passing Zdenek in the final meters. Nys, who crashed in the final corner, finished third, way ahead of Klaas Vantornout and Tom Meeusen. “Now I’m sitting here with mixed feelings. I’m happy I was able to fight for the win, yet disappointed that I didn’t finish the job.”
“Honestly? No, I didn’t think I’d be in a position to win, but of course I hoped I would be. It was a hard race and a very long sprint at the end. Oh well, better next time, right? Maybe Wednesday in Loenhout?” With today’s result, Zdenek remains third in the World Cup standings.