Sunday, February 2, 2014

Real men roll pink.

I believe he can fly, I believe he can touch the sky. Photo credit: TDW Sport 
The last time Zdenek Stybar won a rainbow jersey in cyclocross Specialized came out with a pink Crux for him to ride the following season. His version was customized with rainbow stripes but you could still get basically the same all over pink bike and it was awesome. Here's hoping the big S has something up their sleeve for '15 to commemorate his latest championship. Baby blue? Laker Purple? Flo yellow? The possibilities are endless...

Gettin' some Z's.

Kona has never been one to follow the crowd. I've always had a soft spot for their bikes and their ethos.  For over 25 years they'be been making bikes their way. Already a know MTB brand, they were also one of the only brands I remember making true cross bikes in the early 2000's when it was just barely getting popular here. The Jake the Snake model was a solid bike and won more than its fair share of domestic races on a number of levels. They've carried that thought process through ever since and are still making some great bikes, with cross still being a lead category. Their love of dirt carries over to the road and this video is a cool edit of some dirt/all road friendly bikes taking advantage of some amazing looking scenery (what else would I expect in Hawaii...) and some fun riding in a decidedly relaxed style. Even the baggy kit works when you see it in this light. Take a look for yourself. 

Perfect timing.

Steebs had enough time to make out with his Crux and still give the classic victory salute as Sven rues his last lap slip ups from behind.
Zdenek Stybar had the cyclocross world wondering all season what his plans for the world championships were. He played coy throughout the season as to whether or not he'd be racing in today's big race in Hoogerheide. He had ridden well in a number of world cup races many times playing the aggressor, but seemed to be having more fun doing supercross style jumps than racing for wins. When he finally announced the week before last that he would indeed make an appearance in the big race it set the cx world abuzz. You see, since he turned his focus on road racing and a pursuit of spring classics glory and cut back on his CX ambitions things just haven't been the same. His classic battles with Belgians Sven Nys and Neils Albert are the stuff of legend were sorely missed...until today.

That's all she wrote for Sven - Stybar stayed on and Nyes had to dismount, he never got close after that.
The racing was vicious and just over half way through the race it became apparent that our prayers were going to be answered and we were going to be treated to another battle royale between Nys and Stybar. They traded places at the front a number of times - sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident. Heading into the last lap the crowd was at a fever pitch and Sven led them through the start/finish line with Stybar hot on his tail.  About a third of the way though Stybar powered through on Nys' left and put the current champ in discomfort to say the least. Sven was having trouble getting back on his wheel but was still within reach until the turn shown above. It was a muddy, sweeping, slightly off camber left that Stybar was able to ride through and Sven - very uncharacteristically - took a bad line in his haste to close the gap. He had to dismount and by the time he righted the ship Stybar was gone and had time to prepare his victory salute. 

SC WC Podium - Stybar, Nyes, Pauwels.
It was a great race with Pauwels coming in a solid third and filling out the Belgian contingent on the podium. Nys as always was gracious in defeat and Stybar was a deserving winner and looked great in his 3rd rainbow jersey in the last 5 years. 

Lucky folks in the crowd. 
All in all it was a great race as expected. All the best were there and the two (arguably) best CX racers in the last decade gave the crowd, and the rest of us, a true treat. Stybar is looking strong and it bodes well for his chances in the spring classics in the coming months. Here's hoping he can improve on his 6th place in last years Paris-Roubaix and the rest of the monuments this spring.