Zdenek Stybar turns page with move to Jayco-AlUla
After 12 seasons in a Quick-Step jersey, Czech star quickly fitting in with 'chilled' Aussie crew.
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ALULA, Saudi Arabia (VN) — It’s business as usual as Zdenek Stybar sat in the back of a team car Tuesday methodically preparing for stage 2 at the Saudi Tour.
His shoes, socks, helmet, and jersey are laid out in tidy perfection in practice made perfect for the veteran Czech star.
There’s a bit of a double-take, however, to see Stybar debuting in his Jayco-AlUla colors this week in a high-profile move after racing with Quick-Step for more than a decade.
In fact, Stybar was such a part of the furniture at Quick-Step that he had a hard time convincing anyone last year when he said he was leaving the Belgian outfit.
“Lefevere told me that he would not be prolonging my contract, so we had to look around,” Stybar said. “It was a not an easy situation, and many of the teams never believed that I would leave Quick-Step.
“I am happy that Patrick let my agent know quite early, so it was soon known that I would be leaving, and that helped open some doors.”
Also read: Stybar leaves Quick-Step
At 37, Stybar still has a lot to give, but admits it was just business that Lefevere cut him loose.
“The last two years I had some health issues, it was not that easy to say, ‘here I am, please take me,’ because the results were not there,” Stybar said. “It was a disappointing two years, but Patrick made it easier in a way because he told me early he would not sign me anymore.”
Stybar joined Quick-Step in 2011 and won 18 races for the Belgian outfit, including stages at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, as well as classics at E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
When word got out that Stybar was on the market, Tristan Hoffman, sport director at Jayco-AlUla, said the team scooped him up.
“It’s like he’s been on the team for years. He really fits in well,” Hoffman said. “His job will be to help with the leadout for Dylan. He will be ahead of Mezgec and Dylan in the sprints. He’s got the experience to really help us in the sprints.”
At Jayco-AlUla, Stybar brings depth in the spring classics as well as provides an important engine for the bunch sprints to lead out the team’s sprinter ace Dylan Groenewegen.
It worked like a charm in the opening stage at the Saudi Tour, with Groenewegen kicking to victory.
“The morale is good. We were already talking about this race at the training camp,” Stybar said Tuesday. “We had to put a big effort into it to win, but we were very happy to win for the sponsors, and to start the season in the right way.”
Ahead of the start of the stage, Stybar joined his new teammates under the shade of a tree, and soon clicked in for the race.
It’s business as usual, just with a different jersey on his back.
“To be honest, this is the best team that could happen for me,” Stybar said. “I am very happy, and I didn’t expect such a good team. It’s very chilled, with such great material. That is such an important part for me. Everyone is excited for a big season.”