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?
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