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After racing to second in Sunday’s Tour of Leuven-Memorial Jef Scherens, the Czech star told Het Nieuwsblad that he won’t continue with the Belgian superteam he’s raced with since 2011.
“I’ve been told that I’m not going to be signed,” Štybar said. “I definitely want to keep racing because it just wasn’t good enough in the past two years. Is there any interest? That’s a question mark given my age and the health problems I’ve had. In that sense, this second place is not unimportant.”
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Štybar, who turns 37 in December, hasn’t won a race since a stage at the Vuelta a San Juan in early 2020, and his last major wins came in 2019, when he won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke.
Despite seventh at last year’s worlds, and second in a stage at the Tour of Poland last week, if he wants to keep racing, it will no longer be in a Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl jersey.
Štybar has been wracked with illness and other setbacks during the past two seasons, and Lefevere said he’s more interested in signing young and improving riders as the Belgian team brings on Soudal as a co-sponsor for 2023 and beyond.
In a bid to stay in the game, Štybar is also looking for race days, and the former world cyclocross champion confirmed he will race more days in the mud this winter than he has in years.
“I will end the season with a maximum of 40 racing days on the road, which is not enough,” Štybar said. “That’s why I want to ride more crosses next winter. Still, the road remains my main goal because I haven’t reached some goals there yet.”
Štybar wants to hold out. Last year, Australian veteran Simon Clarke found himself in a similar situation after his team folded. He was a late pickup by Israel Premier Tech, and by July, won an emotional stage at the Tour de France. Last week, the team confirmed a two-year contract extension for Clarke.
Štybar is philosophical as he hopes for the best.
“But if no team shows up later, then so be it.”
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