With the 2012 cyclocross world championships set to commence in a little over fourteen hours, it seems quite possible that reigning champion Zdenek Stybar might have a new weapon in his quest to become the first man since Roland Liboton to win three titles in a row. A recent promo photo on cyclingnews.com shows Stybar with a new bike on his shoulder, seemingly carbon and bearing what appears to be an S-Works logo on the downtube. Details are non-existent and representatives from Specialized remain tight lipped, but it is certainly past due for the company to feature a top shelf race-centric ‘cross rig in their line up. Shortly after the photo featuring the new frame was published, cyclingnews.com quickly ran a full bike profile on Stybar’s aluminum CruX, but bike industry insiders have been clamoring for a carbon version for years. There could be little higher motivation to get it done than sponsoring one of the best riders in the world.
Since Stybar’s Omega Quick Step team switched to Specialized from Merckx at the beginning of the year, Stybar has been racing the mid range alloy CruX frame set. While a quality rig to be sure, it is still one of the few aluminum models at the top end of the sport. The antiquated material doesn’t seem to have stifled the world champ as he promptly took another Czech national title and his sole World Cup win of the season aboard his aluminum steed.
Heading into the tomorrow’s world championship, don’t be surprised to see Stybar bringing out the mystery frame. Specialized always seems a little late to the party when it comes to industry trends such as carbon ‘cross bikes, but it is usually in the interest of quality and a superior product. From Christoph Sauser’s debut cross country world title aboard a revamped Epic to Matt Goss’s Milan-San Remo win on the company’s new Venge aero road bike, Specialized has a history of big debuts. If the Stybar is able to put a somewhat sub-par season behind him and take yet another rainbow jersey, Specialized will be able to notch another perfect product launch. Of course, it’s possible to be reading too deeply into this photo, but there’s no better place than the World Championships to bring out the big guns.