Styby is back! With a win in today’s World Cup race in Lievin, our world champion showed that he’s ready to defend his title in two weeks. “And I wasn’t really there today. I even showed up too late to the start.”
Indeed: Zdenek wasn’t there. “Because I reported too late to the start, I had to start from the fifth row. There weren’t many riders behind me. Luckily I was on the right side, which was the good side. So I was able to pass a lot of riders.”
Not only did he have a bad start starting position, but his tire choice was also made on the fly. “Everyone started on a different type than me. Strangely enough, I thought: we’ll see. I came to France to do a bit of training.”
The start went better than hoped. In no time Zdenek had moved up to seventh, while Niels Albert and Sven Nys, who both started from the first row, were overpowered and would never see the front of the race. This was good news for World Cup leader, Kevin Pauwels.
Pauwels took advantage of Nys’ position and went on the attack, taking Radomir Simunek and Philipp Walsleben with him. The trio quickly built up a lead of some 10 seconds. Zdenek was still in seventh when he turned onto the road and he managed to close the gap to the leaders with one acceleration.
Walsleben couldn’t keep up with the pace and Simunek would also eventually fall back. In the meantime, Albert and Nys went in pursuit of the leaders, but their efforts were in vain. The pace that Pauwels and our Styby had together was too fast for the others. After three quarters of the race, they had a lead of more than a minute.
A first attack by Zdenek proved too much for Simunek, who would eventually finish third. The next attack didn’t come until the eleventh, and final lap. “For the first time this season I saw that Kevin was having a hard time. I really wanted to take advantage of that.”
Styby pushed Kevin to the limit and that led to a fatal mistake. Pauwels fell on the stairs and saw his chances of victory disappear. “I don’t know if I would have won anyway, but it would have at least been a very interesting sprint,” our champion admitted.
“The Czech title from last week gave me a lot of confidence,” our favorite continued. “I’m getting better and better. I felt good during the race. It’s been a long time since I felt that way. I’m happy I can go home with that feeling.”
“Now I have another two weeks to peak for the World Championships. Can I draw any conclusions from this race? Definitely not. The course in Koksijde is completely different,” according to Styby.
The next and final race before the World Championships is next weekend in the Netherlands where the last round of the World Cup will be held in Hoogerheide.