120 men and 50 women are registered for Afxentia stage race, second round of Cyprus Sunshine Cup, which will be opened on Friday by a one lap time trial. Voroklini winner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) and Annika Langvad (Den) are to lead a big amount of world class riders competing the three days event at Macheras Forest, which is registered in SHC category.
A lot can happen in three days and favourite number one, world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Factory Racing), has to pay attention on some more riders than in Voroklini. Probably the Swiss Flückiger brothers Lukas and Mathias (both Trek World Racing) are going to be better prepared than in Voroklini.
Then world cup number five of the previous year, Maxime Marotte (Fra, BH Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) arrived on the sunny island to compete in the 13th edition of Afxentia stage race. Further on Liam Killeen (Gbr, Giant Factory Racing) showed up at Voroklini with a pretty good race, ending up on three. The two Germans Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak-Ergon) are also on the list for the podium again.
“Wolfram was pretty strong in the uphill. I had to suffer a lot, especially in the first two laps”, Jaroslav Kulhavy confessed. He notes that he takes the races as a part of his training system, but this should be the case for everyone.
Perhaps u23 world champion Thomas Litscher (Sui, Felt Oetztal X-Bionic) will be seen inbetween the best of 120 men and his country mate Fabian Giger (Sui, Rabobank-Giant) anyway. Giger looked very strong during Voroklini race last Sunday.
Greek champion Periklis Ilias also will appear at picnic place Mantra tou Kampiou near the village of Kapedes, where the mountainbike stage race takes place. He tries to secure as much points as possible to make the Greek spot for the Olympic mountainbike race in London safer.
Langvad: Legs like a great bag of candy
160 points are dedicated to the winner of the Afxentia stage race. So the race is important for the world ranking and also for the Olympic qualification system by nations.
These points are very important, not at least for Annika Langvad (Fujibikes Rockets). She fights for the Olympic spot of Denmark and in the same time for her own. If she can make it to Afxentia overall win, she probably will overtake New Zealand and Ukraine before the world cup season kicks off.
Langvad in Voroklini showed up in a pretty good performance. On her website she described it in this words: “To realize that legs are just great is like opening a great bag of candy. Well I ate the whole bag and enjoyed every bit and piece.”
Who among the 50 women is gonna be dangerous for her? Sabine Spitz (Ger) and Czech Tereza Hurikova (both Sabine Spitz- Haibike) were close to Langvad at Voroklini. The mix of three stages is different to a one day race. Blaza Klemencic (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic) last year was second in the overall. She should be a serious contender as well. Katrin Leumann (Ghost Factory Racing) should also be able to get the train with the front group. Tanja Zakelj (Salcano Factory Team) is also expected to be closer to the podium than in Voroklini.
Two times world champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak-Ergon) skips the Afxentia stage race. The Russia will come back to compete the final race at Amathous.
Afxentia: small changes and a new participation record
Afxentia stage race starts on Friday with a one lap time trial on the 5,5 kilometer cross country course in the Macheras mountains. Second stage is hold as a point to point race with start in the village of Kapedes and finish at the picnic area of Mantra tou Kampiou. It’s about 44,7 kilometer for the men, and 39,8 kilometer for the women. 4,5 kilometers to go, there is a new single trail implemented. Final stage is a regular cross country race on course at Mantra tou Kampiou, to which a new singletrail was added.
The Afxentia stage race is named to Grigoris Afxentiou, a Cypriot freedom fighter who was killed by the British in the Macheras Mountains.
170 riders in women and men elite category are expected to ride the Afxentia stage race. That’s again more than ever before. There are riders out of 26 different nations at the starting line.
Time Trial (full lap on the 5,5 kilometer XCO course)
13:00 Juniors and Masters
14:00 Women and Men Elite
Point to point (44,7 for men/39,8 for women) (Start in Kapedes)
11:00 Men Elite
11:20 Women Elite, Juniors, Master and Cycling for All
10:00 Women, Juniors, Masters
10:15 Kids Competition
12:00 Men Elite