Zdenek Stybar Second in World Cup Hoogerheide
As Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team cyclo-cross star Zdenek Stybar took over first place 35 minutes into World Cup Hoogerheide, with four laps to go, it looked like Stybar was poised for another victory.
Stybar and a small chase group had just brought back Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Nies Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), and he had Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) trailing. It looked like the race would mimic last weekend's battle at World Cup Lievin between Stybar and Pauwels, where Stybar rode to victory after Pauwels fell on a run up.
However, the roles were reversed in Hoogerheide. Pauwels pushed the tempo with three laps to go (41 minutes, 39 seconds in), and Stybar simply couldn't stay on his wheel. Pauwels had a four second gap on the final lap (55:16 in), and ended up besting Stybar by 8 seconds. Pauwels had a finishing time of 1:02.01.
Vantornout took third, 14 seconds behind Pauwels.
Stybar also secured third in the World Cup series overall standings, with 525 points. Pauwels secured the overall victory by winning in Hoogerheide, with 590 points. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) finished second, with 540 points.
"Kevin was the strongest rider today, and he has been for the entire World Cup," Stybar said. "He deserved to win the World Cup without a doubt. As far as I'm concerned, I rode a good race even if I wasn't as brilliant as last week in Lievin, probably because I trained a lot this week with my sights on the World Championship."
Stybar looks more than ready to defend his rainbow jersey in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship, in Koksijde, next weekend.
"I'm in good shape and on Sunday on the Koksijde circuit anything can happen, really," Stybar said. "There are at least five or six athletes who could win the race. It will be a great World Championship. For my part I'm going to try to show up in top physical and mental condition to try and capture my third title in a row. That would be a dream come true."