Zdenek’s winning streak continues. The World Champion secured his sixth victory of the season on Sunday by winning the first round of the World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland. He finished ahead of Niels Albert, who did well to finish second, and is now leading the World Cup standings.
Just like a few years ago, a race was held in the UCI’s backyard to kick off this top-level competition. Despite heavy rains in Switzerland during the week, the course was completely dry, which resulted in a fast race.
The riders headed out at 3:00pm and Sven Nys was first to dive into the field. Styby, who painfully came into contact with a supporter, followed in his tracks and quickly forced the pace “to thin out the group,” he said. “It’s dangerous to ride around in a group of ten. So I pushed the pace.”
The riders were spread out in a line, but the Czech wasn’t able to form a gap during the first four laps. So Zdenek waited for the right moment - which came about three quarters of the way through the race – to make his move. He began to force the pace yet again just before the sand as he did in Loenhout. “It was the perfect moment. I thought Bart Aernouts would move up with me, but all of a sudden I was alone.”
Just like last week in Ruddervoorde, Aernouts was able to keep up with Styby for a long time, but eventually fell back. Later in the race the man from Essen fall further behind due to mechanical issues, which also affected Bart Wellens. This allowed Niels Albert to move up.
The former World Champion didn’t pose any threat however. Zdenek went into the last lap with a comfortable lead and booked his sixth victory of the season in six races. “But it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked. It was the most difficult cross so far.”
Albert ended up finishing second, ahead of Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantournout and Steve Chainel. “Keep an eye on Albert. Next week he’ll definitely be competing for the win in Plzen,” Zdenek says. Belgian Champion Nys didn’t have his best day and finished back in ninth place. “But don’t write off Sven yet. He’ll win again soon.”
Thanks to this latest victory, Styby now holds the lead in the World cup standings. “Very nice,” he admits. “I’m really happy that I have the jersey. It’s only the second time in my career that I can actually wear it.” However, tt seems unlikely that the World Champion would prefer the white jersey over the rainbow jersey for next Sunday’s race in Plzen.