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Kulhavy is the man to beat – Strong contenders for Vos’ comeback

A great bunch of world class riders, lead by the Olympic champions Jaroslav Kulhavy, Sabine Spitz and Marianne Vos, is looking forward to second round of Cyprus Sunshine Cup. The 17th edtion of three days Afxentia Stage Race starts Friday 1pm local time in the Macheras Mountains.

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) is the man to beat in the Macheras Mountains. The Czech by his victory showed a very good performance at Cyprus Sunshine Cup opener at Voroklini.

After suffering from some stomach problemes on Tuesday, he will try to repeat his 2012 Afxentia overall victory. «I am okay again, looking forward to the race», Kulhavy confirmed his start.

On of his main competitors is of course Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC). The Swiss at Voroklini lost only ten seconds and was satisfied with his performance.

His team mate Emil Lindgren was okay with his shape, but after a mechanical problem not with the result. As we know the Swede, he will go «full gaz».

CSC Overall winner of 2011, Karl Markt (Ötztal Scott) had to quit the race in Voroklini, also due to a mechanical. Probably he wants to have a retrieval for that.

Henk-Jaap Moorlag (Giant Pro XC) could be also a contendor for the podium. Also interesting to see, what Belgian vice champion Kevin van Hoovels (Versluys) and Sabastian Carabin (Merida Wallonie) will do.

 

Spitz out of the snow, Vos «a bit nervous»

The women’s startlists offer really high valued peloton. The three times Olympic medal winner Sabine Spitz (Haibike), one of the greatest names in the cross country sport, will open her personal competition season on the mediteranean island. Before she entered Cyprus, Spitz was training cross country – skiing. The race on friday is «mentally far away», she confessed on Twitter.

But as she always says, sun and high temperatures are her really favourites. Regarding Cyprus, she will find that. Wednesday under a blue sky, the mercury column climbed up to 23 degrees.

Spitz, Olympic champion 2008, at Afxentia will meet another Olympic champion. Marianne Vos (Rabobank/Liv Giant, but guest rider for Giant Pro XC) will give her comeback in mountainbiking since juniors time (2005). «Of course, I am a bit nervous. It’s quite a challenge, but I am looking forward to it», the Olympic and worlds road champion comments her start in the stage race.

«It’s a tough course and I am not used to it», Vos says on Wednesday, before leaving the team camp in Kalavasos to another technical training with former downhill ace Oscar Saiz.

Vos is now training on Cyprus since one week and she seems to enjoy it. «It’s really good, I like it so far. I had good training rides along the coast and also long uphills in the mountains. The roads are good as well», Vos regards her road training, which remains in her main focus.

At Afxentia the Dutch in her comeback beneath Sabine Spitz, she will find more high ranked ladies to compete with. Blaza Klemencic (Calcit Bike, Slo), two times fifth placed in a world cup stage in 2012 and winner of CSC opener is one of them. Katrin Leumann (Ghost Factory Racing, Sui), the runner-up in Voroklini and former European champion from Switzerland, the bronze medalist from the worlds 2011, Eva Lechner (Colnago-Südtirol, Ita), the current U23 world champion Jolanda Neff (Giant Pro XC), Germanys vice champion Adelheid Morath (Sabine Spitz-Haibike) or Lisi Osl (Ghost Factory Racing), world cup overall winner in 2009 from Austria are all international top riders.

Osl describes, what the Afxentia will be for her, during a four weeks stay on Cyprus: «I want to have an alternation to my training, calling the race intensity in my body, competing against other top riders.» She is not the only one, for sure.

 

Small changes in the point to point

The Afxentia stage race contents three stages, time trial, point to point and a regular cross country race. The point to point course on Saturday has changed a bit. The start from Kapedes will follow now a dirt road up to the picnic site Mantra tou Kampiou, before entering the well known course through beautiful Macheras Mountains. For the womens then it remains the same, in the only mens part, around kilometer 17, there is a new 250 meter new single trail implemented.

The length is now 41 kilometer for the women and 45,5 kilometer for the men.

The Afxentia is registered in the HC category of World Cycling Union (UCI), which means, that riders can earn a lot of world ranking points

 

The stage race is named to Grigoris Afxentiou, a Cypriot freedom fighter who was killed in 1957 by the British in the Macheras Mountains. Start and finish are located at the picnic site Mantra tou Kampiou, except the point to point, which starts at the village of Kapedes and ends at Mantra tou Kampiou.

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