Zdenek Stybar tests out the sand. Bart Hazen

Here, Zdenek Stybar tests out the sand. © Bart Hazen

A collective moan went up over the Twitter-verse as Czech cyclocrosser/roadie Zdenek Stybar connected with a fan, bumping just hard enough to be dropped from the lead group along with Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke. We aren’t talking about a cyclocross race, obviously: this morning was the famed Paris-Roubaix spring classic.

Cyclocrossers had been going crazy just minutes before as the young Czech racer, who elected to skip cyclocross worlds this season in favor of prepping for the road classics, made it into the lead group as the race reached the final kilometers. With about 30 minutes of racing to go, Stybar found himself in a group with Cancellara, Vandenbergh and Vanmarcke, leading their closest chasers by 30 seconds. With 16km to go, Vandenbergh crashed, and moments later, Stybar’s luck ran out as well, and the collision with the spectator cost him the chance to battle for the win. He finished sixth, a solid placing for the racer, but surely a disappointment when he had come so close to the podium.

A cyclocross tire would have been helpful on some of the rougher cobblestone sections.

A cyclocross tire would have been helpful on some of the rougher cobblestone sections.

However, Stybar wasn’t the only strong cyclocrosser in the race. Lars Boom was in the front of the race, even with as little as 50 minutes to go, sitting in the third group behind a group consisting of Gaudin, Vanmarcke, Langeveld and Vandenbergh, and a second group with Van Avermaet, Flecha, Paolini and Stybar. Boom sat with Cancellara, Terpstra, and Eisel, a mere 25 seconds behind the leaders. He finished 14th.

If you’re thinking about hitting up a gravel race with some serious cobblestones like racers saw this morning, you might be better off with a tougher tire, since most gravel grinders don’t allow for team cars. Check out our review of the Challenge Almanzo and Eroica gravel race tires, an extension of our Gravel Feature in Issue 20.

We have an interview with Stybar coming up later this week, so make sure to check back soon!