Zdeněk Štybar, known as “Štyby”, is a very successful world-class cyclist. Especially on one-off races. In addition to cyclocross, he won three major classics – Strade Bianche (2015), Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (2019) and E3 BinckBank Classic (2019). For that stage at the Tour de France (2015) and at the Vuelta (2013). He has a total of 18 career wins.
All it took was a little and he could have been a true superstar. Three times he reached for victory at the classic monument Paris-Roubaix. In 2017 and 2015, he finished second twice and in a span of seven years (2013–2019) he was in the top ten six times.
An ambitious but decent and fair cyclist who can boast of having been a supporter of the famous Belgian “Wolf Pack” for several years, one of the best stables in the world, which today bears the name of Soudal QuickStep. He was no fluctuant. He spent 11 years in the team of the big boss Patrick Lefever. He finished his career in the Australian stable Jayco – Alula.
His story is something else extraordinary. Zdeněk Štybar literally became an international sports personality. At one point, he was perhaps even more famous in cycling powerhouse Belgium than in the Czech Republic. He settled there, married the Belgian Ine Vanden Bergh, with whom he has a son, Lewis. He speaks Flemish almost as well as Czech, as well as English and can communicate in other languages as well.
With a bit of luck, he could have reigned in the saddle of the top international peloton for a few more years. He was stopped by health problems. He repeatedly fell ill with covid-19 and underwent hip artery surgery on both legs this May. It bothered him for three seasons, but he had no idea what the dog was buried in. Because of this, the performance decreased step by step. This was also the reason why Lefevere did not extend his contract. Everything could have been different, but if it wasn’t played.
These were not the only health problems during his career. After all, it would be surprising for a cyclist. In August 2014, he fell so badly at the finish of the fourth stage of the Eneco Tour that he knocked out five teeth and had to undergo surgery. He lost participation in the Vuelta because of it. And in 2021 he underwent minor heart arrhythmia surgery.
He started with bicross
Zdeněk Štybar was born in Planá near Mariánské Lázně. Not everyone knows that he started cycling on a bicross bike and won the world championship of his age category on it in 1993. Then he jumped into cyclocross.
It was a long and successful field career. In 2005, he became the world champion in cyclocross under 23 for the first time. The next year he already raced for the Belgian Fidea Cycling Team and defended the under-23 world title in its colors.
In 2007 in Kalmthout, Belgium, he won the World Cup race for the first time in his life. In two years, he already dominated the cup races in Koksijde, Igorre and Roubaix and took first place in the overall classification. In the meantime, he finished second twice at the World Championships (2008 and 2009).
The real breakthrough came in 2010 at the domestic cyclocross world championship in Tábor. Although he had a puncture shortly after the start, he quickly worked his way to the front on the icy track and won by a margin. The following year, he defended his victory and that opened the way for him to join the road peloton.
Since 2013, he has been at the top of the cyclocross peloton. He was a unique figure because he was practically the only one who could successfully defeat the dominant Belgians and Dutch.
In the first season on the road, he finished third at the Four Days Around Dunkirk, and in the following year he already won one stage there and finished second overall. To this he added victory in the third stage of the Tour of Poland.
His teeth fell out in Flanders
In cyclocross, he was at the forefront from his junior years in 2002 until his third WC title in 2014. But even then he sometimes included top cyclocross races in road preparation and, for example, three years ago he was still commuting at the front of the peloton.
On the road, his career lasted 12 years.
It was worth it and Zdeněk Štybar entered the imaginary hall of fame of Czech cycling. He also experienced curious situations. For example, at the popular Paris–Roubaix, at the premiere in 2013. He could have won even then. He drove famously side by side with Fabian Cancellara and Sepo Vanmarcke. But 14 kilometers before the finish line, he unfortunately ran into a spectator taking photos at the side of the road. He staggered, lost his rhythm, and both competitors immediately left him. He managed to finish at least sixth.
At the 2015 Tour of Flanders, his false front teeth, which he had broken the year before, came loose again while grinding on the dice. He had to take off his prosthesis, but he managed to finish at least ninth. It was his second best finish on the heavyweight monument.