Belguim expected, but it was late arrival Zdenek Štybar that delivered the knock-out blow to take the coveted rainbow title home to the Czech Republic. You always hope that when it comes to a final, whatever sport, that the two favourites are there, and there’s a competition, not some negative “I’m not going to make a mistake” option taken. And this race was a toe-to-toe Titan vs. Titan battle.
When I say it was a Titan vs. Titan battle, there was the interloper of the course conditions to keep things interesting. “It was a very hard race,” said Štybar. “I crashed one time and I thought it was over. From the beginning I thought, let’s race hard, I have nothing to lose. Now I have to go, I have to give it everything. I was fourth line, I had to brake full gas on the start and come back, which was a big effort for me. We were three, then two and then I thought we were just going to fight for the podium.”
Štybar had the disadvantage of starting further back on the grid than he would have liked, giving the other favourites at least three rows. French Rocket Francis Mourey took the green light and repeated his fast start that gave him the win at the WC event in Namur, but it was all to no avail as a bit of a wobble dropped him back into the chasing pack, looking like eventually he’d burnt his matches too quickly fading to finish eighth.
The main protagonists had at this stage almost formed up, with Štybar bridging across eventually to the group; it looked we had choice of winner from here. Over the next couple of laps Štybar and Nys were trading blows, sensing each other, while the casualties were the rest of the group, as Van Der Haar and Mourey faded fast.
With two to go, it looked like a body blow had been landed, and it was Štybar who had taken to the canvas or mud if you will. He lost the bike on a soft-angled descent that had taken out Bina early doors. Nys, not even batting an eyelid, dismounted and jumped over his fallen comrade in mud and was away. Daylight had finally emerged between the two. But what happened next, maybe it was a brain fart on Nys’s behalf or just tiredness, while grabbing the end of a barrier/fence to whip round a bend he lost a wheel. It was enough for Štybar to get back on level pegging.
You’d have thought with the last lap they’d have maybe one attack/one counter in them, I was thinking that with the course going south so quickly it would have been Nys’s technical abilities that could have won the day, but it’s the pure power of Štybar that caused the decisive blow. The attack was brutal, sustained, and final from Štybar pushing home the advantage as he gapped Nys. Game, Set and World Champioship title for Mr. Štybar.
Enjoy the exclusive photo gallery by our man in Hoogerheide, Wei Yuet, above.
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