Zdenek Stybar: Reflecting on the Classics season
The Czech reflects on the first part of the season, riding his favourite races and enjoying a fantastic run of spring classics victories with #TheWolfpack. Eluded for a win himself, Stybar rounds off the blog looking towards the next big goal of his season, Il Giro.
Obviously this is my favourite time of the season. This is why we do it, all the effort and sacrifices it takes to be good in this period, it's all worth it. To me, it's the essence of cycling. I love everything about it. Everything!
When the season ends in October, we take a few weeks off, but my head is already on the cobbles of next season. It's important to have a good winter preparation in order to be at the highest level during the crucial weeks of the classics. And it's not only physically that you have be ready, it's of course obvious that you do everything possible to be ready in this aspect, but mentally is just as important.
After a few years in the World Tour I know what to expect. I know the pressure is always big and everybody expects a lot, not only from the riders but also from the staff, which is only normal when you think of the rich history the team has.
For me, the classics are the main goal of the year. Every season I hope to come closer and closer to a win, every year I hope to add one of these beautiful races to my palmares. Unfortunately it didn't happen yet, but I can't say that I'm not happy. I'm very happy for the team and I am super proud to be part of this amazing group of riders and staff!
Every year I learn more, about tactics, about the race, about positioning, about the parcours, about all of it! So this is another full package of knowledge I take with me to the next season.
The experience I had this year together with my teammates was overwhelming, it was beyond anything I could have imagined
To have such an amazing Spring Classics campaign is something that will really stick. From all the races, my favourite one was De Ronde van Vlaanderen. The atmosphere there was incredible from start to finish. The crowds were also something special, showing their support and chanting my name so many times, that was fantastic!
It's only in Belgium that you can enjoy such unreal moments! I had goosebumps almost the entire race! And the way Niki finished it off, with Phil taking third place, I tell you, we couldn't have asked for more!
But what really stood out was how we rode as a team, as a real Wolfpack, backing each other up and being there when it mattered
This gave us the extra punch to go just that little bit stronger, harder, faster. When I watched again the races I was so proud of what we did together!
My next goal of the season will be the Giro d'Italia. After the classics, I took five days off and went with my family to Mallorca, just to enjoy life, relax and go out to some nice dinners with friends. But now it's time to focus again on racing and on my next appointment, where we are keen on displaying the same collective strength and determination, which have become our trademarks.
It will be my debut in the Corsa Rosa and I can't wait to discover this race and its fans, who I could see from Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico how passionate are about the sport! I'd also love to win a stage there and complete my set of stage victories in all three Grand Tours. It won't be easy, but I hope to pull it off!
Photo credit: ©Sigfrid Eggers