Stybar joins elite men’s field at cyclocross worlds

The Czech rider says he's in "good condition" and hopes to earn his third world title Sunday in the Netherlands

Zdenek Stybar confirmed Thursday that he will ride in the UCI Elite Cyclocross World Championships this weekend after checking out the course in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

The Czech, who resides for most of the year about 10 kilometers from the site of the worlds in Essen, Belgium, decided he would attempt to win his third world title following triumphs in 2010 and 2011. He’s also won the last six Czech national championships.

Stybar cut his teeth in cyclocross but joined the road racing ranks in 2011 after signing with Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

“I’m in good condition,” Stybar said in an Omega Pharma press release. “I came from important training sessions in Mallorca and I’m ready to compete. I like the parcours even if today I couldn’t really train on all of it. As I said a few weeks ago, if I decide to do worlds it is because I feel that I can do well.”

Stybar will face tough competition in Sunday’s elite men’s race from Belgian Sven Nys, who has won six of the last seven races he started (including the Belgian national championships, his ninth title), Dutch champion Lars Van der Haar, Belgian Niels Albert (a two-time world champ), and German champion Philipp Walsleben. Nys won the cyclocross worlds in 2005 and 2013.

Stybar won Versluys Cyclocross Bredene in December and finished on the podium at Grand Prix Sven Nys (second) and Grand Prix Erik De Vlaeminck (third).

“The podium would be a great result even if the competitors are really strong, especially Sven Nys, who showed his class in the last races,” Stybar said. “I will do my best to be competitive. Normally the parcours will be hard because of the rain the last few days. I like these kind of conditions even if I hope it won’t rain on Sunday.

“Worlds are always special and they gave me a lot of notoriety in the past.”

On the road, Stybar finished sixth in Paris-Roubaix last year and has racked up eight stage wins at various stage races.