Zdenek finished second in the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. The win went to Kevin Pauwels, who also claimed the overall victory. Styby finished third in the general classification. “Kevin is a worthy winner,” according to our world champion.
The race didn’t get off to a smooth start as Bart Aernouts and Gerben de Knegt tangled with one another. Luckily they weren’t near our champion, who was in about sixth place when the riders dove into the field. Francis Mourey took the initiative during the first lap.
A lap later, Pauwels let teammate Klaas Vantornout go ahead to join Mourey and Tom Meeusen up front for tactical reasons. That forced rival Sven Nys to close the gap, but he needed the help of a strong Niels Albert. Zdenek would also join them a little later.
Pauwels made the best impression and the World Cup leader benefited from the fact that Nys had an off-day. Pauwels placed a successful attack and Nys was unable to stay in his wheel. Styby and Vantornout were the only riders able to keep up with Pauwels after that.
The Sunweb leader made few mistakes and remained in the lead for the rest of the race. “He was the strongest rider today,” Zdenek admitted. “I had to close a lot of gaps, but after I made two mistakes in a row, it was over and out.”
That happened during the penultimate lap. Zdenek put some pressure on Pauwels, but wasn’t able to close the gap. Pauwels stayed in front and won his fourth World Cup race of the season. The world champion finished a few seconds later, ahead of Vantornout.
“I didn’t have the same feeling today as I did in Lievin,” Styby said. “That’s because of all the hard training the past three weeks. It’s fun racing here, so close to home. Hoogerheide is very close to Essen. I’m already sitting in my pajamas and it’s not even seven o’clock yet.”
And finally, next week’s World Championships in Koksijde. Styby...? “I’m expecting an exciting race. I don’t really have one favorite, they are mainly Belgians. Koksijde is perhaps the hardest cross this season. Now I’m going to try to rest well and hope to be in super form next week…”
By on 22/01/2012