Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Zdenek Stybar spoke at a press conference on Friday about defending his rainbow jersey on Sunday, at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship in Koksijde. The event is so oversold, race organized announced on Friday that tickets wil not be available at the event. "The crowds will be incredible, they're expecting about 40,000 people," Stybar said. "I've never raced in front of so many people, it will be thrilling and inspiring. I hope the public will support not only the Belgian athletes but everyone in general." Stybar comes into the race well prepared. He recently won World Cup Lievin, and placed second at World Cup Hoogerheide last Sunday.
"I feel ready for the race, I've been training as I should have and I've had an excellent approach to the race until now," Stybar said. "I'm not feeling the pressure of the race, I'm pretty relaxed. Last week I also worked a lot on a mental level to prepare for the race and this week I've tried to relax and finish preparing. I'm calm and confident for the race."
No doubt, as Stybar mentioned in the First Show team presentation just weeks ago, the Belgian riders will likely be his biggest threat to defend his world title.
"The Belgian team is the most fearsome," Stybar said. "It will be hard to race against 7 Belgian athletes. At the beginning of the race there could also be some surprises and somebody could get into the first positions. Surely Belgium will be the team to beat."
Stybar wrapped up his training within the past few days. Media shot video and photos of Stybar climbing a very tricky sandy and uphill section on Thursday.
"The route is difficult and only the best will win," Stybar said. "In the last few years I've grown a lot on sandy routes, managing to enjoy some personal gratification. On this type of course you need technique and also a lot of strength."
With a top performance, and perhaps with a little luck as well, Stybar could very well walk away with the rainbow jersey once again.
"Winning the World Championship three times in a row is a dream," Stybar said. "Not many riders have done it. I'm highly motivated. I don't want to dwell on this; first and foremost I want to think about running a flawless race and I hope to be in the right place at the right time."