Zdenek Stybar captures the 2010 Cyclocross World Championship in Tabor. © Joe Sales

Zdenek Stybar captures the 2010 Cyclocross World Championship in Tabor. © Joe Sales

Tábor, Czech Republic – With thousands of fans and several years to anticipate racing the Cyclocross World Championships in his home country, Zdeněk Štybar had plenty of time to feel the pressure of chasing his first Elite world title in Tabor. “We tried not to talk about the race because there was a lot of pressure from outside. We tried not to think about Worlds,” Stybar’s girlfriend revealed. But on an slushy, slippery course, with his whole country’s expectations on his shoulders, the 2009-10 World Cup winner quickly showed that he’d be the rider to beat with a fast start and masterful lines that left the rest of the field slipping, literally, while he raced towards the rainbow stripes.

Belgium’s Klaas Vantornout, who has been a fast starter for much of the season, took the holeshot, followed by countryman Sven Nys and Štybar. Nys then took up the pace-making and led an early break, trailed by Vantornout, Štybar, Steve Chainel, Radomir Simunek, Francis Mourey, Gerben de Knegt and Bart Aernouts. Vantornout soon hit the front again and opened a small gap, followed by Nys, while Štybar suffered an early flat. After a quick pit exchange, and with the help of his countryman Simunek’s work, Štybar was quickly back with the leaders.

Meanwhile, American Jonathan Page started quickly as well, climbing into the top-20 before a second lap crash that left his chain stuck between chainring and cranks cost him nearly twenty places. Moments later, once Page finally got moving again, an open front quick-release lever forced him off the bike again, slowing him further. Page, who was considered a contender for a spot on the podium after a strong finish at the final World Cup in Hoogerheide, saw his hopes fade away in the aftermath of one disastrous lap.  At the same time, his countryman Tim Johnson was moving up, sitting in 29th. The other three US riders were also moving up, with Jamey Driscoll in 35th, and Ryan Trebon and Jeremy Powers outside the top-40.

Johnson made great progress on the running sections, passing riders with his newly screw-enhanced shoes. (Johnson got the tip from his roommate Luke Keough, who employed the tactic during the U23 race to stay on his feet.)

Stybar sails through the barriers © Joe Sales

Stybar sails through the barriers © Joe Sales

Back at the front of the race, Kevin Pauwels, Simunek and Nys worked hard to shut down any accelerations by an aggressive Vantornout, who was was motivated by the fact that he was not mentioned as a pre-race favorite despite an excellent season. Pauwels and Switzerland’s Christian Heule were able to bridge up to the leader, with Štybar and Francis Mourey close behind. Pauwels took a spill coming into the barriers, and Heule and Vantornout quickly had a gap. Štybar picked up the chase along with Mourey and Simunek, trailed by the threatening Belgian duo of defending World Champ Niels Albert and three-time champion Erwin Vervecken.

Coming into the fourth lap, Štybar took over from Heule at the front and quickly attacked, getting the gap he needed within a few turns. He’d go on to post the fastest lap of the day, in 7:23. Heule was left to chase, with Vantornout on his wheel, but couldn’t match the Czech favorite. Nys soon joined the group to add some needed horsepower, leading the group of four that now included Czech Martin Bina. After hopping the barriers, Nys would take off in solo pursuit of the leader.

Sven Nys bunnyhops the planks in Tabor Part 1 © Joe Sales

Sven Nys bunnyhops the planks in Tabor Part 1 © Joe Sales

But it wasn’t Nys’ day. Moments later he went down in a turn, letting the gap quickly expand as Vantornout and Bina took up the chase. While Simunek and Mourey continued to push the pace from behind, trying to rejoin Vantornout’s group, Nys recovered from his crash and returned to the head of the chase. Simunek was riding consistently and was still within reach of the group, while Bart Wellens, hoping to prove the merit of his inclusion on the Belgian team, surged to try and break into the top five.

Nys, Vantornout and Bina continued to pursue, but each seemed hesitant to attack. Nys hopped the barriers again to try and gain another gap, but a bobble soon after left him stuck behind Bina, with Vantornout pulling away. Vantornout poured it on to secure second as Nys seemed to come apart, with the earlier effort, pressure and the conditions forcing him into mistake after mistake.

Nys’ troubles allowed Bina to rejoin him and then attack the Belgian star for the last step on the podium. With first and second place virtually decided, the excitement was in the race for third. Nys and Bina repeatedly attacked each other but stayed together until the finish. In the end, Nys was able to hold off Bina in a sprint to land on another World’s podium, his third consecutive bronze medal.

Klaas Vantornout rode an aggressive, consistent race to nab second © Bart Hazen

Klaas Vantornout rode an aggressive, consistent race to nab second © Bart Hazen

Štybar crossed the line uncontested leading Vantornout by 21 seconds, while Nys’ last minute effort forced the Czech Bina into fourth place in front of his home crowd. Mourey was next across, followed by Zlamilik, Heule and Simunek—making for four Czechs in the top eight. Gerben de Knegt was ninth and Bart Wellens rounded out the top-10. Erwin Vervecken, racing in his final Worlds before retirement, raced to 16th. Niels Albert, a favorite coming into Tabor, dropped out midway through the race.

Štybar was both elated and relieved with his win. “I wanted to win at home. The last two laps, I had cramps in my legs, but I told myself the pain will go away, all that matters is that I win in front of the home crowd,” the new World Champion said. But he wasn’t expecting to have such a gap, explaining, “When I looked at the screens I saw only me, I didn’t know where the others were. When I heard how many seconds I was ahead, I was surprised.”

Vantornout was satisfied with his finish and season. “I had a very good season,” the tall Belgian said. “I was second in the Belgian Championships, I was second here. It was the strongest I could go.”

Sven Nys had thought of himself as a favorite before the race, and was disappointed with third. “I’ve been third at Worlds three times in a row…[To win,] everything must be perfect,” he said. “I did a lot of crashes, and where I’m normally good, like in the corners, I made a lot of mistakes. When Stybar went, I wasn’t in front, Heule was, and I don’t think he was the right person [to bring Stybar back]. I tried to fight every lap, the power was there for me, but the feeling and the technique were really bad.”

Tim Johnson finished strong to take 14th, best American finisher © Bart Hazen

Tim Johnson finished strong to take 14th, best American finisher © Bart Hazen

As with the women’s race earlier in the day, it was a good and bad day for the American team. Two Americans in the top-20, with Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll in 14th and 19th, respectively, was a highlight. Johnson told us he was happy, if not completely satisfied with his finish.

“I’m happy with the way things worked out,” he said. “I would have been thrilled with a top-ten—that’s what I was trying to do. I was able to catch people like Aernouts, Franzoi and Vervecken, people in the top ten, I was feeling good off that. I have to be happy with this race.”

Driscoll, whose 19th marked a new high point in his young career, was also pleased. “I was having a good day handling my bike, and I moved past people because they were on the ground and bobbling,” he told us. “That was encouraging. Top-twenty was what I was going for if I didn’t make mistakes, and [I got it] and I’m really, really excited about it.”

American Jonathan Page rode well, but a mechanical knocked him out of contention © Bart Hazen

American Jonathan Page rode well, but a mechanical knocked him out of contention © Bart Hazen

While the two Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com riders marked a high point for the Americans, Jonathan Page never recovered from his early mechanical and finished a disappointing 30th place. “I just had bad luck,” he said. “I had a pretty good start, I was behind Niels Albert, but he slipped and then I slipped. My chain got stuck between the crank [and chainring] and I couldn’t get it out and it all went to hell. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish the job today for my family and everybody who worked so hard for me.”

Powers and Trebon, who finished 41st and 50th, respectively, were philosophical about their results. “We talked about being set up for how the race would be, not how it was at the start,” said Powers. “So I used 34 Rhino [tires] for the muddy conditions and that was a good decision.  I’m happy with the way the season ended.”

Countryman Trebon said errors hampered his chances. “I made some mistakes and crashed hard twice and hurt my knee and my hip,” he said. “I lost all my confidence and went backwards. It’s ok though, it is what it is. A finish is a finish.”

Find complete coverage, photos, reports and replay our live coverage from Saturday and Sunday in our 2010 Tabor Cyclocross Worlds Coverage Center.

Joe Sales’ Photo Gallery:

Bart Hazen’s Photo Gallery:

Sven Nys in Full Flight:

Full Results:

PlaceBibNameCountryTime
114STYBAR ZdenekCZECH REPUBLIC1:08:58
23VANTORNOUT KlaasBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+00:21
32NYS SvenBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+00:38
416BINA MartinCZECH REPUBLIC+00:40
58MOUREY FrancisFRANCE / FRANCE+00:56
617ZLAMALIK MartinCZECH REPUBLIC+01:02
721HEULE ChristianSWITZERLAND / SUISSE+01:07
815SIMUNEK RadomirCZECH REPUBLIC+01:18
924DE KNEGT GerbenNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+01:49
107WELLENS BartBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+02:13
1130FONTANA Marco AurelioITALY / ITALIE+02:25
1210BAZIN NicolasFRANCE / FRANCE+02:26
139CHAINEL SteveFRANCE / FRANCE+02:28
1442JOHNSON TimothyUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+02:28
1522WILDHABER MarcelSWITZERLAND / SUISSE+02:37
166VERVECKEN ErwinBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+02:45
1726VAN AMERONGEN ThijsNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+02:47
1829BIANCO MarcoITALY / ITALIE+02:54
1943DRISCOLL JamesUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+03:07
2023FLÜCKIGER LukasSWITZERLAND / SUISSE+03:09
2111GADRET JohnFRANCE / FRANCE+03:11
2235SUAREZ FERNANDEZ IsaacSPAIN / ESPAGNE+03:13
2312COLOMBATTO LaurentFRANCE / FRANCE+03:14
2454PFINGSTEN ChristophGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+03:17
254PAUWELS KevinBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+03:29
2636HERMIDA RAMOS José AntonioSPAIN / ESPAGNE+03:32
2731URSI FabioITALY / ITALIE+03:34
2858DRUCKER Jean-PierreLUXEMBOURG / LUXEMBOURG+03:42
2919AUSBUHER KamilCZECH REPUBLIC+03:52
3041PAGE JonathanUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+04:05
3156PARBO JoachimDENMARK / DANEMARK+04:15
3225AL ThijsNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+04:15
3320BAMBULA OndrejCZECH REPUBLIC+04:21
3457PRESSLAUER PeterAUSTRIA / AUTRICHE+04:31
3538FIELD IanGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+04:43
3646BARENYI MilanSLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE+04:50
375AERNOUTS BartBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+04:56
3818DLASK PetrCZECH REPUBLIC+04:57
3955SICKMUELLER JohannesGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+04:59
4059BAUSCH GustyLUXEMBOURG / LUXEMBOURG+05:00
4145POWERS JeremyUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+05:13
4240OLDHAM PaulGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+05:33
4327VAN GILS WilantNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+06:07
4439CRAWFORTH JodyGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+06:12
4533RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ JavierSPAIN / ESPAGNE+06:19
4637ZABALLA GUTIERREZ ConstantinoSPAIN / ESPAGNE+06:37
4732DAMIANI LucaITALY / ITALIE+06:48
4849METLICKA VaclavSLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE+06:50
4952TSUJIURA KeiichiJAPAN / JAPON+07:27
5044TREBON RyanUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+07:37
5148HARING MartinSLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE+08:39
5247GLAJZA RobertSLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE-1LAP
5364AIKEN RodgerIRELAND / IRLANDE-1LAP
5460BURUCZKI SzilardHUNGARY / HONGRIE-1LAP
5563BOLDBAATAR Bold-ErdeneMONGOLIA / MONGOLIE-3LAP
5662ARIUNBOLD NaranbatMONGOLIA / MONGOLIE-4LAP
5766PEKATCH DrorISRAEL / ISRAEL-5LAP
5861ANGHELACHE George-DanielROMANIA / ROUMANIE-5LAP
1ALBERT NielsBELGIUM / BELGIQUEDNF7
34MURGOITIO REKALDE EgoitzSPAIN / ESPAGNEDNF7
50GIL MariuszPOLAND / POLOGNEDNF6
51DARVELL MagnusSWEDEN / SUEDEDNF6
28FRANZOI EnricoITALY / ITALIEDNF5
13LABBE ArnaudFRANCE / FRANCEDNF3
53WALSLEBEN PhilippGERMANY / ALLEMAGNEDNS
65LAYHE AndrewIRELAND / IRLANDEDNS