Stybar looks confident in his new jersey. ? Bart Hazen

Stybar's rainbow stripes will adorn a Telenet-Fidea jersey next season. © Bart Hazen

by Josh Liberles

Zdeněk Štybar, the Czech rider who won the 2010 World Championships in Tabor while racing for Telenet-Fidea, has been at the center of much speculation for the past several months. Although Štybar is under contract with Fidea through February 2011, the rider had openly discussed on his Web site that he wasn’t yet settled on a team for this coming season.

Štybar’s teammate, Kevin Pauwels, is under a similar contract, but has also been talking to other teams for the 2010/2011 season. Threats of a lawsuit between Telenet-Fidea team manager Hans van Kasteren and Sunweb’s Jurgen Mettepenningen ensued. But the team that appeared to have the best chance to woo Štybar was Lanbouwkrediet Credit Agricole, Sven Nys’ squad.

The Belgian cyclocross-happy rumor mill was spinning about what a team including Nys, the powerhouse of the past decade, and Štybar – the man who won Worlds, the World Cup overall, the Superprestige, UCI overall ranking and was second in the GVA Trofee – would look like.

Apparently we’ll never know whether that duo would be a recipe for a dream team or in-team fighting; as Lanbouwkrediet team manager Gerard Bulens told Het Nieuwsblad, “Yes, there has been a conversation, but Štybar is only one among ten others. I’m definitely not going to him in February 2011….  Already talk of a transfer is far too premature.”

Zdeněk Štybar, for his part, has more recently made it clear that he intends to fulfill his contract with Telenet-Fidea and race with the squad through the end of this coming season. “So I’ll race in the rainbow [jersey] for Telenet. [After February] there are multiple options, but I want clarity as soon as possible,” Štybar told Het Nieuwsblad. Telenet-Fidea may remain one such option – but the question remains whether van Kasteren, who feels snubbed by Štybar’s etiquette in pursuit of a more lucrative contract, will be interested in joining the bidding war.

See also: Teams Wrangle over Stybar, Pauwels