2015 Best Moments: Zdenek Stybar wins in Le Havre!
Etixx – Quick-Step had another successful season in 2015, with 54 road wins alongside 69 other podium places. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team in the 2015 season. Our previous moments focused on the likes of Niki Terpstra, Mark Cavendish, Michal Kwiatkowski or Tony Martin. Our next best moment is Zdenek Stybar taking his maiden Grande Boucle victory.
Stage six of the 102nd Tour de France was dubbed as being a flat stage, although this wasn't 100% correct, as there was a small rise just at the finish going to Le Havre, a town renowned for having the country's second largest port. For that reason, it became clear for everyone that the sprinters won't take part in the fight for victory, which was meant to be more an affair between the riders who could put on a punch on Cote d'Ingouiville (850 meters, 7% gradient).
A three-man group emerged clear at the start of the day – Kenneth Vanbilsen, Perrig Quemeneur and Daniel Teklehaimanot – with the last two being reeled in 12 kilometers before the arrival. At that point, only Vanbilsen was in the lead and digged hard to stay at the front, but to no avail, because the chasing peloton came fast from behind and caught him as the stage entered in its last three kilometers.
On the final hill, Zdenek Stybar took advantage of the confusion created by a crash that occurred and put on an impressive acceleration, opening a gap on the rest of the cyclists and riding free up the short climb in Le Havre. The 29-year-old, three times World Champion in cyclo-cross, landed his biggest road victory to date and the second of Etixx – Quick-Step in just three days at the Tour de France. By finishing first, he made sure of becoming only the second Czech rider to score a win in cycling's biggest stage race.
It was a bittersweet day for Etixx – Quick-Step, as Tony Martin crashed hard on his left shoulder and broke his collarbone. Helped by three colleagues, including World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski, the yellow jersey wearer got to the finish and from there he went immediately to the hospital, were he underwent some X-rays and was updated on his condition, which required surgery and a break from cycling.
“The last 10 kilometers were really crazy”, Stybar said. “We had really great information from the team car. But still, to make that information real is not really easy. I saw Tony was in front with Mark Renshaw and Cav. I was riding to bring Cav to the front, but noticed he was in a bit of difficulty. In that moment I was in the wheel of Van Avermaet, Sagan and Kristoff. I also saw that they didn’t have any helpers left, so I thought if I go now, the one who will close the first gap to me will lose the sprint, so maybe no one will chase. So I gave it all or nothing as we decided with the team. It was really great to make it. I think this is on the level as my first cyclo-cross World Championship in Tabor. It was an amazing feeling then and now I felt the same as I did there. At that time, I couldn’t believe that I have won stage of the Tour de France. For this it was a very important win on a personal level, a win that I dedicated to my wife Ine and my newborn son, Lewis. Also, this is special for me in terms of my development as a road rider. When I changed from cyclo-cross to road I had a difficult time adjusting. I was working really hard to make the transition. I made some nice results, such as Strade Bianche, and winning stage two of the Eneco Tour. But also I had a lot of bad luck with my two crashes. One at Eneco, and another in Ardooie for cyclo-cross. So this means a lot for me. I am extremely happy I got the chance from the team. They gave me the free card to do it. It means a lot because I don’t get a lot of chances in a year.”