Zdenek celebrated his first victory on the road yesterday. Our favorite was the strongest rider in the queen stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk and crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. The victory also propelled Styby to second place in the general classification standings.
The fourth stage took the riders on a 183 kilometer journey from Gravelines to Cassel, where they completed nine laps of a hilly local circuit. Niki Terpstra, one of our Czech’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates, was in the day’s early break.
Terpstra and Frenchman Damien Gaudin went on the attack and would remain in the lead until the penultimate lap. That’s when Zdenek took over. He made his move on the second to last climb of the Casselberg.
Thomas Voeckler and Jérôme Pineau, another of Zdenek’s teammates, were the only riders able to stay in his wheel. “I tried to do the last 20 kilometers harder. I was really happy Jérôme was with me because we were able to work well together.”
Despite their hard work, a small group was able to catch up to them and overall leader Jimmy Engoulvent also joined them. “With 3 kilometers to go I decided to go alone. I thought: It’s all or nothing. I started riding as fast as I could.”
And fast he was. Nobody, not even a strong Carlos Alberto Betancur, winner of the Baby Giro in 2010, was able to catch Zdenek. “When I looked behind me near the end I saw I was alone, so I accelerated to make sure I’d win.”
Ultimately our man won by 10 seconds. “I couldn’t believe it. After the finish I had to ask if there was anyone ahead of me. I was thrilled when I realized I had won. One of the best moments of my life.”
“This is a very important victory for me. A lot of people had negative reactions when they heard I wanted to give road racing a try. Today I showed that I can do it. I followed my heart when I made this decision and I’m really happy about it now.”
“It’s special to win in Dunkirk. I made my road debut here last year. I want to dedicate this victory to the team and my family who have always believed in me. I’m going to do my best tomorrow, but at the same time I’m going to enjoy this big step.”
On paper Zdenek is still capable of winning the general classification. He’s just 43 seconds behind Engoulvent heading into the final stage. However, the stage is completely flat so his chances of pulling that off will likely be limited. But the Four Days of Dunkirk has already been successful for him.