Zdeněk Štybar is looking forward to the great atmosphere of the World Championships. "The World Championships in Tábor is a huge challenge for me," he says

Zdeněk Štybar during an interview during the train journey to the press conference for the World Championships in Tábor.
Zdeněk Štybar during an interview during the train journey to the press conference for the World Championships in Tábor.

A big attraction for cyclocross fans will surely be the participation of the three-time world champion among elite men, Zdeněk Štybar, who won his first title of world champion among the elite in Tábor in 2010. Since then, Štybar added two more cyclocross world champion titles, winning a stage at the Tour de France and the Vuelta.

In an interview, former world champion Zdeněk Štybar revealed, among other things, whether his race in Tábor will be his last. "Of course, it probably won't be a victory, I have to be realistic," admits the thirty-eight-year-old Czech cyclocross legend, according to whom cyclocross is not represented by only three stars Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock.

How have you been preparing for the World Championships in Tábor?

In November I trained in Mallorca, at the end of it I returned home for the press conference for the championship, then I went to Belgium and then returned to Mallorca again. I combined a lot of things and it was a bit more complicated. I generally prepare as best I can. I was plagued by some health problems, so I picked up a training gap. I believe that I will still catch up and arrive in Tábor for the February championship in excellent shape.

What ambitions do you have when you come to Tábor when you look at the level of the world's top players?

Of course, it probably won't be a victory, I have to be realistic. I take the whole time until the championship in Tabor as a way to get to the best possible level. The championship in Tábor is a huge challenge for me. But I can't say exactly the ambitions for my result.

We already know that Pidcock and van Aert will not come to Tábor...

Yes, but there are still about fifty other people who will want to succeed. Cyclocross is not just about van der Poel and Pidcock with van Aert. Last year, without specific cyclocross training, I rode somewhere around the 15th to 20th place. I will be as prepared as possible this year, so I believe I should finish about the same this year.

What do you expect from the Tábor audience, with whom you have extensive experience in the past?

There is always a great atmosphere in Tábor. I expect the audience to create it again. It will be an unforgettable experience for the competitors. When I think back to 2010, I have very good memories of winning the first gold among the elite. There was an incredible atmosphere in Tábor and I hope that we will surpass it in February. The road to my title started back in 2008, when we walked the track and tuned it to fit us as much as possible. I was intensively preparing for the stairs at that time and ten days before the race I ran up as many stairs as on the Eiffel Tower. I also discussed with the psychologist various options, what could happen to me during the race, in order to be as well prepared as possible.

Can Czech fans look forward to great performances by Czech competitors? What can you invite the fans to?

Every member of the Czech national team will participate in the World Championships in Tábor with great expectations. Everyone will do their best to arrive as well prepared as possible. Only the fans can make the last point, by pushing us even further. I believe that in such an atmosphere the Czechs will give the performances of their lives.

Will you drive the last race of your career in Tábor?

I started preparing for the Tábor championship basically from the moment Tábor won the 2024 event. At the time, people told me to end my career in Tábor, but it came to me very early. However, 99 percent it will be my last race in my career. As I said before, I'm preparing for it as best as I can. There is still time left for me to improve everything necessary.

By: Josef Janda, Photo: Karolina Kabíčková