Let's make it clear straight off: Zdenek Stybar is good at bikes. That's a kind of ridiculous understatement, of course, but that's today's race at its essence.
I didn't watch the cyclocross world championships, mostly because I didn't feel like putting forth any sort of effort to be rewarded with a wavery, balky Dutch internet feed that will probably drop in four minutes. Anyway, it'll be on YouTube later today, probably in English and in HD.
Regardless, I was keeping tabs on things. I wanted Stybar to win. Not because I'm a super fan. Not because I dislike any of the rest of the field. They're all fine racers. Well, except for those guys who got lapped. (I can make that joke because I get lapped all the time, right?) And not because of his bike, either.
It was because Stybar, though a former world cyclocross champion, is now a dedicated roadie ... who races CX for fun during the holiday ... and who decided to race just for shits and giggles about five days ago. And he came in and stuck it to the best. From what I read, he wasn't just sitting in and waiting for a chance — he went out and tried to make it happen. I love that. I love watching an athlete who is so good that it doesn't matter what the opposition tries to do. That guys still wins.
Take Greg Maddux, during his mid-1990s heyday. Every single batter knew Maddux was going to throw strikes, but not in a spot where it could be hit very hard. Everybody knew that. And everybody still hit weak grounders to short. He was utterly ridiculous.
Stybar's ride was similarly ridiculous. But he's good at bikes, and sometimes it doesn't matter how good everybody else is.