Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2011: Afxentia stage race
Jaroslav Kulhavy on the top- Karl Markt secures overall
Blaza Klemencic takes stage, Lene Byberg the overall
Concluding third day of Afxentia stage race in Macheras Forest as second part of Cyprus Sunshine Cup Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) in final cross country race grabbed the win ahead of overall winner Karl Markt (Aut) and Emil Lindgren (Swe). In womens competition leader Langvad unfortunately missed the start. So the way was free for Blaza Klemencic (Slo) to take the stage in front of Lene Byberg (Nor), who won the overall and Anja Gradl (Ger).
In the morning Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) announced his intention to win the final stage of the Afxentia stage race on his brand new 29er full suspension. In the first half of the race the world ranking number one stayed calm, pedaling together with Emil Lindgren (Rabobank-Giant), Karl Markt (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic) and for the first two of six laps Henk-Jaap Moorlag (Ned/Rabobank-Giant).
After lap three Kulhavy was accelerating but Markt and Lindgren could follow. Two laps to go Lindgren tried to escape but his contenders were able to keep his wheel. During the last lap Kulhavy went into the lead and got a small gap.
He was able to defend it against Markt, finishing second seven seconds behind, and Lindgren on third (+10s).
In the second group the fight for the overall podium between Jan Skarnitzl (Cze/Rubena Birell Specialized) and Fabian Giger (Sui/Rabobank-Giant) was going on. Giger was able to hold the contact until the prelast lap. Then Skarnitzl attacked, opened up a gap to Giger and extended it to more than the ten seconds he was behind the Swiss before the final stage. Skarnitzl got into third place in the overall behind countryman Kulhavy.
Jaroslav Kulhavy: “It was perfect today. In the first half of the race I was safing energy and in the second half I went full gas. My legs were perfect and to ride with the 29er fully was amazing and gave me advantage in the single trails and in the downhills.”
Karl Markt: “It was very easy today. I could follow them easily. In the last lap I did the flat section in front position, then Jaroslav attacked and on the climb I had not more the best legs. But at least the overall win was more important as to go for the stage. I’m really happy with my shape and I enjoy the races of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup.”
Emil Lindgren: “It was a little bit revanche for yesterday. In the overall I have lost too much because of my puncture yesterday, it’s a shame. I had god legs but Jaroslav was too strong today. I tried it two laps to go but I couldn’t make it.”
Jan Skarnitzl: “I lost contact to the lead in the first lap, felt tired after yesterdays race. Fabian and me, we were riding together and it was very hard to get him from the wheel. I’m very satisfied about third place and it’s a big surprise.”
Fabian Giger: “It was a hard race. I gave everything I had but it was not enough. That’s racing. I felt a little bit empty.
Lene Byberg saves 43 seconds
When women’s peloton got the starting signal the yellow jersey was missed. The rising questions were answered 20 minutes later, when the Annika Langvad’s Easton Rocket Team arrived at the venue. Team manager Bernhard Mollnhauer after the first shock blamed himself for the missed start. He expected the start two hours later. “I have to take the full responsibility for that big mistake. I feel very sorry for Annika and Tatjana (Dold) to miss the race and everything else”, Mollnhauer told while the race was going on.
According to Mollnhauer, Annika Langvad was feeling understandable totally disappointed about missing the race and losing lots of points.
Blaza Klemencic (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic) from the beginning was taking the regime and soon got a gap to Lene Byberg (Specialized). Behind Byberg the German Anja Gradl was trying to hold contact but in the middle of the race the difference has grown up to 55 seconds. Towards the finish Gradl came closer but at the end Byberg safed 24 seconds. More important that she was able to safe 43 seconds to Klemencic in the overall to get the Afxentia title. Gradl got into third place 3:53 minutes behind Byberg.
Blaza Klemencic: “I had better legs today and I’m happy with my first win this year. I crashed two times. I was racing with the hardtail and I felt better with it. Im sorry for Annika, she has like one leg plus this year.”
Lene Byberg: “It was a hard day. I could feel the race from yesterday. I was suffering a little bit the whole race. I was hoping to get closer to Blaza in the end but I didn’t had the power. It was a hard start after that long break with three races but I had fun out there.”
Anja Gradl: “I had a crash in the first lap by trying to overtake in a downhill. It was my fault. Concerning the rest of it I am totally surprised that my legs were that good. Normally I’m not a good stage racer.”