PRAGUE (AFP) — Reigning cyclocross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) of the Czech Republic said Friday he would skip next year’s world championships in his homeland because of a shoulder injury.
“I feel like crying saying this, but I’m not going,” the Czech news agency CTK quoted Stybar as saying.
The 28-year-old Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider, who won world cyclocross titles in 2010, 2011, and 2014, tore the ligaments in his right shoulder in a fall during a cyclocross race in Belgium in October.
In August this year, Stybar lost several teeth in a horror crash at the Eneco Tour in Belgium, a road race he had won in 2013.
Stybar explained that the injured shoulder prevented him from lifting the bike.
“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be lining up for the start of the cyclocross season,” said Stybar. “When I took the decision I was almost emotional because it’s the first time in years I have to give up cyclocross. But to be honest, right now the conditions for taking on this type of competition just aren’t there. I’m still recovering from the shoulder injury. The rehabilitation is going well, but the pain in my shoulder isn’t entirely gone. I can work out on the road if I avoid holes and rough asphalt, but I still can’t carry the bike on my shoulder or perform other essential technical maneuvers necessary for a cyclocross event. ‘Cross races are very skill-dependent, and you need complete control of your bike. Because of the injury, my training also got off to a late start and on top of it all, I still can’t exercise at the gym or do the core stability sessions. This is why, with a heavy heart, I have to give up cyclocross.
“I’m really very sorry, especially for the fans who always support me in the races, and for my cyclocross crew, for years with whom I’ve been sharing the joys and the efforts of the races,” Stybar continued. “Everybody knows how much I love this sport, but obviously the risk of compromising my rehabilitation and winter training is too big.”
Last year, after a full season of WorldTour road racing, Stybar raced a few select cyclocross events, then won worlds after a thrilling battle with Sven Nys in Hoogerheide. Cyclocross world championships will take place in Tabor, a city south of Prague from January 31-February 1, 2015.
“If the race [worlds] had been held in another country I would have already withdrawn,” Stybar said. “The fact is that the race will take place in Tabor, in my own Czech Republic. That is where I became a world champion for the first time, and I have the most extraordinary memories from that circuit. It’s the pick of my career so far. However, the decision is being postponed until the middle of January, and will depend a lot on how I feel and how my shoulder is doing. At this moment the chance to be at the start is very small.”