Zdenek Stybar doesn’t carry any regret from last year’s Paris-Roubaix, where he clipped a spectator and lost his chance for a podium place. Instead, the reigning cyclo-cross world champion looks ahead to Sunday when he will pit himself against time trial men like Brad Wiggins and last year’s winner, Fabian Cancellara.
“Wiggins has time trial abilities, in Paris-Roubaix maybe that’s more important than having technical skills,” Stybar said.
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“I can save energy in the turns and on the cobblestones but you don’t have the possibility to ride free. You are still always in the peloton. It’s better to have the power from the time trial and the track than to come from cyclo-cross.”
Stybar spoke last week in a grey jumper at Quick-Step’s headquarters in Wielsbeke, Belgium. The flooring company sponsor his team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Over the winter, he returned briefly to the cyclo-cross scene and won the worlds racing in the Czech Republic’s blue colours. He cannot wear the rainbow colours in the road season, but of course, he takes those ‘cross skills into the classics.
Last Sunday in Belgium’s Flemish fields, he formed the sharp end of the Omega Pharma’s army that tried to overthrow Cancellara (Trek). He made the final selection with Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh. He said that he wants to be just as valuable again in Paris-Roubaix, and possibly win.
“My ‘cross background gives me some advantage in riding over the cobbles, I’ll probably have even more advantage if it rains, but still, [Wiggins and Cancellara] are experienced riders. They can use their power in other places and so it’s hard for me to take advantage of my technical skills. Wiggins, for example, can push more watts than I can.”
Stybar, however, appears naturally adapted to the rough French roads. He managed sixth despite clipping a spectator on the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector and losing ground to his rivals. That was only the 28 year old’s first participation.
“I never think about that incident even the press always reminds me,” he continued. “When the race was over, it played on my mind because I was thinking that I could’ve played for a top three if the accident didn’t happen. That would’ve been great in my first year doing the classics. I always look ahead and I can easily forget about the past.”