World Champion Zdenek Stybar carves through the sand in Oostmalle. © Bart Hazen

World Champion Zdenek Stybar carves through the sand in Oostmalle. © Bart Hazen

by Josh Liberles

After what Zdeněk Štybar describes as a “dream season,” he finally had the chance to head back to the Czech Republic to revel in his accomplishments on Thursday. “I wanted to celebrate with my fans after the (World Championship) race in Tabor, but I had to fly to Belgium with team sponsors,” said Štybar. Now that the long cylocross season has wound down, Štybar finally made the return to his hometown of Stribro, where his father had planned the celebratory bash.

Štybar’s biggest accomplishment was taking this year’s World Championship in front of the home crowd in Tabor, Czech Republic, but he also finished first overall in the UCI rankings and won both the World Cup overall and the Superprestige series. He finished second overall in the GVA Trophy series, behind Sven Nys, knocking Niels Albert down a position courtesy of his second place result in the finale in Oostamalle.

“I didn’t have the most wins this season, Albert had 16, Nys 15, but I got good results in almost all the important races,” Štybar said on his website. He took home a total of 11 wins, but they were some of the biggest. “I only missed the podium in Gieten, Zolder and Oudenaarde. The worst result of the season was seventh place. It’s unreal. I would like to thank all the people around me. They helped me a lot and their help gave me strength.”

“Sven Nys won everything in 2005. He was the first who managed it. But I am very satisfied with what I’ve achieved. It also brings big challenges for next season. It will be hard to get these results again, but if I am fit, I hope that I will be able to repeat my performances,” said Štybar.

Štybar plans to race mountain bikes again this summer, but cyclocross remains his priority. Looking ahead to next year, he knows that the pressure to win will only increase, and that privacy will be limited. “I am a person who can’t say no to my fans. It’s hard to refuse a small child who wants a photo with me,” said Štybar. He is still in negotiations for a contract for next year – with offers from his current Telenet Fidea squad, as well as Lanbouwkrediet, Sunweb and Quick Step. His current contract expired in February.

Štybar is already back in Belgium for the Restaurant Day celebration with his fans in Essen. From there, he’s off to Egypt for a much-deserved holiday. Wonder how many people will recognize the World Champ there?