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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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:
|1||14||STYBAR Zdenek||CZECH REPUBLIC||1:08:58|
|2||3||VANTORNOUT Klaas||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+00:21|
|3||2||NYS Sven||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+00:38|
|4||16||BINA Martin||CZECH REPUBLIC||+00:40|
|5||8||MOUREY Francis||FRANCE / FRANCE||+00:56|
|6||17||ZLAMALIK Martin||CZECH REPUBLIC||+01:02|
|7||21||HEULE Christian||SWITZERLAND / SUISSE||+01:07|
|8||15||SIMUNEK Radomir||CZECH REPUBLIC||+01:18|
|9||24||DE KNEGT Gerben||NETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS||+01:49|
|10||7||WELLENS Bart||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+02:13|
|11||30||FONTANA Marco Aurelio||ITALY / ITALIE||+02:25|
|12||10||BAZIN Nicolas||FRANCE / FRANCE||+02:26|
|13||9||CHAINEL Steve||FRANCE / FRANCE||+02:28|
|14||42||JOHNSON Timothy||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+02:28|
|15||22||WILDHABER Marcel||SWITZERLAND / SUISSE||+02:37|
|16||6||VERVECKEN Erwin||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+02:45|
|17||26||VAN AMERONGEN Thijs||NETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS||+02:47|
|18||29||BIANCO Marco||ITALY / ITALIE||+02:54|
|19||43||DRISCOLL James||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+03:07|
|20||23||FLÜCKIGER Lukas||SWITZERLAND / SUISSE||+03:09|
|21||11||GADRET John||FRANCE / FRANCE||+03:11|
|22||35||SUAREZ FERNANDEZ Isaac||SPAIN / ESPAGNE||+03:13|
|23||12||COLOMBATTO Laurent||FRANCE / FRANCE||+03:14|
|24||54||PFINGSTEN Christoph||GERMANY / ALLEMAGNE||+03:17|
|25||4||PAUWELS Kevin||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+03:29|
|26||36||HERMIDA RAMOS José Antonio||SPAIN / ESPAGNE||+03:32|
|27||31||URSI Fabio||ITALY / ITALIE||+03:34|
|28||58||DRUCKER Jean-Pierre||LUXEMBOURG / LUXEMBOURG||+03:42|
|29||19||AUSBUHER Kamil||CZECH REPUBLIC||+03:52|
|30||41||PAGE Jonathan||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+04:05|
|31||56||PARBO Joachim||DENMARK / DANEMARK||+04:15|
|32||25||AL Thijs||NETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS||+04:15|
|33||20||BAMBULA Ondrej||CZECH REPUBLIC||+04:21|
|34||57||PRESSLAUER Peter||AUSTRIA / AUTRICHE||+04:31|
|35||38||FIELD Ian||GREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE||+04:43|
|36||46||BARENYI Milan||SLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE||+04:50|
|37||5||AERNOUTS Bart||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||+04:56|
|38||18||DLASK Petr||CZECH REPUBLIC||+04:57|
|39||55||SICKMUELLER Johannes||GERMANY / ALLEMAGNE||+04:59|
|40||59||BAUSCH Gusty||LUXEMBOURG / LUXEMBOURG||+05:00|
|41||45||POWERS Jeremy||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+05:13|
|42||40||OLDHAM Paul||GREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE||+05:33|
|43||27||VAN GILS Wilant||NETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS||+06:07|
|44||39||CRAWFORTH Jody||GREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE||+06:12|
|45||33||RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ Javier||SPAIN / ESPAGNE||+06:19|
|46||37||ZABALLA GUTIERREZ Constantino||SPAIN / ESPAGNE||+06:37|
|47||32||DAMIANI Luca||ITALY / ITALIE||+06:48|
|48||49||METLICKA Vaclav||SLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE||+06:50|
|49||52||TSUJIURA Keiichi||JAPAN / JAPON||+07:27|
|50||44||TREBON Ryan||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+07:37|
|51||48||HARING Martin||SLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE||+08:39|
|52||47||GLAJZA Robert||SLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE||-1LAP|
|53||64||AIKEN Rodger||IRELAND / IRLANDE||-1LAP|
|54||60||BURUCZKI Szilard||HUNGARY / HONGRIE||-1LAP|
|55||63||BOLDBAATAR Bold-Erdene||MONGOLIA / MONGOLIE||-3LAP|
|56||62||ARIUNBOLD Naranbat||MONGOLIA / MONGOLIE||-4LAP|
|57||66||PEKATCH Dror||ISRAEL / ISRAEL||-5LAP|
|58||61||ANGHELACHE George-Daniel||ROMANIA / ROUMANIE||-5LAP|
|1||ALBERT Niels||BELGIUM / BELGIQUE||DNF7|
|34||MURGOITIO REKALDE Egoitz||SPAIN / ESPAGNE||DNF7|
|50||GIL Mariusz||POLAND / POLOGNE||DNF6|
|51||DARVELL Magnus||SWEDEN / SUEDE||DNF6|
|28||FRANZOI Enrico||ITALY / ITALIE||DNF5|
|13||LABBE Arnaud||FRANCE / FRANCE||DNF3|
|53||WALSLEBEN Philipp||GERMANY / ALLEMAGNE||DNS|
|65||LAYHE Andrew||IRELAND / IRLANDE||DNS|