2014 Best OPQS Moments: Stybar Triumphs in UCI World Cyclocross Championship!
With 2014 nearing its end, and 67 overall OPQS victories (64 road, 1 cyclocross, 2 track), it is time to recap the best 10 moments of the season. While it was difficult to pick just 10 out of a highly successful year, these moments certainly stood out and deserve special mention.
We begin out "Best OPQS Moments" series with Zdenek Stybar winning the UCI World Cyclocross Championship last February in Hoogerheide.
Styby and Belgian rider Sven Nys battled like prize fighters, going blow for blow with each passing lap, taking advantage of their strengths in various parts of the course, and refusing to give up despite crashes and fatigue.
Stybar — who animated the race immediately and eliminated much of the field from contention within a couple laps due to his early efforts — saw his chance on the final lap as Nys began to tire. Nys had a gap on the previous lap, but crashed, which allowed Stybar to get back onto his wheel. Stybar accelerated on a downhill and suddenly, after looking strong throughout the race, it appeared Nys could no longer fight his way back to Styby. Stybar went on to win with a gap of 12", once again putting on the rainbow jersey as UCI World Cyclocross Champion.
"I had to start from line 4, it was a difficult even though I started well," Stybar said looking back. "I was behind the wheel of three Americans. Usually they start really well but this time they crashed and I had to hit the brakes. Luckily with a few accelerations I caught a couple riders and moved up in the race. After the first lap I was at the head of the race and I wanted to make it hard. That was a big effort, but I had nothing to lose, so I went for it! I saw that Francis Mourey was in difficulty and that he was satisfied with a place on the podium, but when I saw that Lars Van Der Haar was getting fatigued, I realized that there was only the two of us left. Nys is a big champion and we both did everything possible to win the race. It was a wonderful show for the people in Hoogerheide. In the final lap, I decided for myself the perfect moment when I had to be in front, and my timing was exactly what I hoped it would be. I became World Champion! I still look back and think about that one-on-one battle with Nys. To win such a hard race with such great competition still makes me proud. I only raced six cyclocross races up to that point and thought 'OK, this is a circuit that would suit me and I am just going to try,' but I really didn't expect I would be World Champion. It gave me the right momentum going into the road season, and cyclocross is a discipline that has always given me great joy to begin with. To add rainbow stripes to my participation is a beautiful bonus."