This morning, Cyclingnews reported that reigning cyclocross World Champion Zdenek Stybar is on the verge of signing with Quick Step, moving over to the perennially classics-oriented road team and potentially signaling a career change. Stybar, who had a dominant start to the season, has lost ground to his rivals in both the Superprestige and GvA Trofee competitions due to a knee injury that’s plauged him through November.
He follows Lars Boom over to the long roads. Boom, the Dutch National Cyclocross Champion and 2008 Cyclocross World Champion, has been making the transition to road racing in the past three years. He’s racked up a few notable victories, too, winning the Tour of Belgium, a stage of the Vuelta, and the prologue of Paris-Nice.
If Stybar hopes for similar success in his transition to a Classics racer with Quick Step, expect it to take a season or two. Developing the endurance necessary to be a factor at the end of a six- or seven-hour race is much different than training for an hour-long cyclocross race. Developing the intuition to survive some of cycling’s hardest races may take longer – in fact, even after a few years of success on the road, Boom still races some road races like cyclocross races, hoping that a late attack and ten or fifteen seconds’ advantage with a few kilometers to go would be successful. Such attacks are exciting, but doomed.
Stybar may hope for more success than another high-profile World Champion crossover – trackstar Theo Bos, who rode for Rabobank and then Cervelo Test Team on the road after winning five World Championships (in the match sprint, the keirin, and the kilo) between 2004 and 2007 (with two silvers and two bronzes completing his collection). Indeed, his most notable race as a road pro may have been the controversial crash with Daryl Impey in the 2009 Tour of Turkey. He has yet to match his track success on the road.
What do you think–can Stybar do it?
Share your comments below.
According to the CN article, Stybar has not signed with Quick Step, but has merely received an offer which he is entertaining.
The article also doesn't cite him wanting to transition to the road (like Boom largely has), but to allow him to race in the spring classics, and potentially MTB events. I wouldn't expect him to give up CX while he is still at the top of the game.
If he were to join Quick Step, he would be their number one (and only?) CX rider, giving them entry to a new marketplace and publicity, at the highest level at a moderate cost. On the road side, clearly he would need time to acclimate. One would hardly expect him to be named a protected rider on a team so stacked with classics specialists, at least not until he proves himself. As for his desire for success. There is a big difference in desiring to compete in the classics vs proclaiming or expecting to be competitive.
While Theo Bos may be most famous for "the incident", he did manage to win 2 road races in 2009 and have 4 victories in 2010; I suspect that is above average for pro roadie.
This just in. Pure speculation on my part, but another reason Quick Step may be interested in Stybar is to satisfy their new investor: http://www.podiumcafe.com/2010/11/25/1835972/czech-multimillionaire-steps-in-to-save-quickstep#comments The source story in Flemish: http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=DMF20101125_045
Great comments from Touriste-Routier! I am pretty new to the cross scene (just bought a cross bike last week actually) so can't speak in too much depth about the Stybar scenario but it would seem to be quite a good proposition..would love to see him in the Classics…Stybar supporting Boonen? hmmmm…is it just me or does the cross interest and momentum seem to be picking up in North America? Lots more media coverage, out here on the east coast of Canada there have been a number of great events with growing participation, bike shops are selling more cross bikes and the masses are catching onto the versatility of owning one (great for fall/winter/dpring rides and racing). I see Rapha – Focus just started a small cross team which is cool, very encouraging to see the sport keep growing..I kind of missed race season this year but look forward to next. Keep up the great articles, Pave is a daily stop for me in my web browsing routine!