Cyclocross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is back. With a win Tuesday in the 194.5km Binche-Chimay-Binche/Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke, the Czech has clearly recovered well from a heavy crash at the Eneco Tour in August.
Niki Terpstra set up Stybar going into a cobbled section in the final 1.5km of racing in the Belgian one-day event. Terpstra’s effort created a gap, and Stybar had no problem maintaining his advantage over the peloton through the rough cobbles. The Czech national road race champion went into the final few hundred meters with enough time to sit up and celebrate his victory. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second, and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol) was third.
“Niki [Terpstra] told me that he would go full gas going into the cobbles so that I could go for a good result, and I have to thank him for the beautiful teamwork today,” Stybar said. “After my crash at Eneco Tour my shape is not 100 percent, but I feel I’m always improving. This is really great to win, because this is the first time since my crash that I’m in a good way condition-wise. It was almost a relief after a hard period these last weeks. Since the world championships I finally started to feel better. But my condition still had to improve. I’m really happy I could win one race before the winter begins.”
Terpstra and teammate Thomas De Gendt had also been in a late breakaway that came back to the field with 5.8km left in the race. Terpstra sat up when he saw the peloton approaching, and saved his energy for the crucial leadout.
“As for the finale today, we knew that there was John Degenkolb and some fast guys in the group hoping for the sprint,” said Stybar. “So, why not, we wanted to try and be protagonists and see what could happen.
“Niki and the whole team did a great job. They rode strong all day. Thomas De Gendt spent almost the whole race in front, and Martin Velits and Stijn Vandenbergh also made it into the breakaway.
“Now I look forward to prolonging my 2014 season with a couple cyclocross races, which is always something I love to do. We will see how I can carry this good momentum.”