World champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) continued his stellar season in front of a home crowd on Sunday, winning the second round of the cyclocross World Cup on Sunday in Pilzen, Czech Republic.
Once again racers faced atypical cyclocross weather and a dry, dusty, mostly flat 2.4km course, with a slight wind and temperatures in the upper 40s.
The race quickly boiled down down to a three-way tussle among Stybar, Telenet-Fidea teammate Kevin Pauwels and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).
With four laps to go, Stybar punched it into a head wind going through the start-finish line and dispatched Pauwels, leaving him to chase some five seconds back. But Albert stuck to his wheel. Sven Nys (Lanboukrediet) led a four-man chase at 30 seconds back.
The two front-runners tested each other during the next lap, taking turns in the lead, neither able to gain an advantage, though Albert seemed stronger on the steep staircase run-up.
With two laps to go the two still seemed evenly matched. Pauwels was still dangling five seconds back while the four-man chase had dwindled to Nys and Francis Mourey (FdJ).
And then Stybar drilled it once more at the start-finish line going into the bell lap, and Albert seemed simply to deflate as the world champion instantly opened a huge gap. The gritty Pauwels overhauled him and moved into second place, 12 seconds behind Stybar, with Albert a further five seconds in arrears.
And that was that. Once again Stybar proved flawless and untouchable, powering away for the win in 1:05:50. Pauwels crossed for second at 15 down while Albert rolled in for third at 32 seconds. Mouray pipped Nys for fourth at 41 seconds.
American Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) finished 46th, two laps down.
“The finish line was really very tough because the wind was from the head,” said Stybar, adding that he had had “specific training for this approach.” And he thanked the partisan crowd for cheering him on.
“Today the crowd was really incredible,” he said.
Earlier, Sanne Van Paassen (BrainWash) won the women’s race in 43:40, with Daphny van den Brand (ZZPR.nl-Destil) second at 16 seconds and Katerina Nash (Luna) third at 55 seconds. Susan Butler (Hudz-Subaru) was the top American, finishing 14th at 2:41.
- 1. Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Telenet-Fidea, 1:05:52
- 2. Kevin Pauwels (BEL), Telenet-Fidea, at 0:18
- 3. Niels Albert (BEL), BKCP-Powerplus, at 0:33
- 4. Francis Mourey (FRA), Fdj, at 0:41
- 5. Sven Nys (BEL), Landbouwkrediet, at 0:42