Overwhelming feed back from the riders
Time to sum up the 20th edition of the Afxentia stage race. More than 180 mountain biker out of 27 different countries were enjoying four days of racing and the feedback they provided was quite overwhelming. Regardless if pro, junior, masters or amateur and fun rider, they loved what they experienced during this spring classic.
Since founded in 1997, the Afxentia stage race developed year by year. In small but continuous steps the format developed to what it is today: a classy event for people, who are passionate for mountain biking, people who loves the nature, scenic landscape and are hungry on flying through amazing trails.
Of course you can find a lot of these people in between the professional riders. How could you better describe, what the Afxentia means to this part of the participants as with the words of the overall winner Fabian Giger. “Sunday morning by looking on my number plate, I realized again, that it is the jubilee edition and I thought, it would be cool then to take this victory.” The Swiss made it and is now proud to be listed on 20th position in the palmares of this classic event.
Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, every day noted, how much she enjoys the trails and the whole atmosphere, cyclo cross hero Mathieu van der Poel posted a very excited comment on Twitter to his 27800 follower: “The most beautiful 2 hours I've ever spend on a bike so far (and the hardest).In love with Cyprus and the mtb sport!”
These are only some of the huge compliments the island and especially the Afxentia got during these days.
Kenneth Flesjaa: We will come back for sure
But not only the professional mountain bikers were happy. Kenneth Flesjaa, husband and coach of Gunn-Rita did the Afxentia for the first time. The original reason was a bet with his wife, but he didn’t regret, even if she was faster than him. “Really great”, he said. “I enjoyed the tracks a lot. Cyprus is a lovely place for mountain biker and the people are so friendly. We will come back, for sure.” Flesjaa won the masters category 1.
And Bart Brentjens, the 47 years old Olympic champion of 1996? The Dutch won the masters category 2. If he wouldn’t like it, he would not return year after year.
Phillip Pearce for the first time entered Cyprus. The British rider, ended up on 40th position in the elite’s category. He showed himself impressed. “I did not know Cyprus, but it was amazing. When I get home, I will tell my friends, that this is the perfect destination for mountain bikers.”
For juniors, of course, it’s hard to go through these four days. But even they enjoyed it a lot. The junior men’s winner Marc Bouwmeester was happy and second Tim Meier from Germany was talking about “a great experience to ride these trails within all these top riders”.
Second placed junior women Lara Krähemann from Switzerland said: “It was a very cool experience.” Same was told by the winner Adela Safarova from Czech Republic.
Most of the riders are enjoying the mix of racing and training. For the amateurs additional enjoying food and culture of the island.
UCI commissaire Floros: Huge potential
Also from an “official” side, there was an interesting comment. Nick Floros from South Africa was the UCI Chief Commissaire at the Afxentia. He also is a expert in trail building, and the designer of the Rio 2016 olympic mtb course.
“The island has huge potential for mountain biking. The opportunities are really great”, Floros pointed out.
“To get all these comments is overwhelming and pure motivation as well”, says Mike Hadjioannou, CEO of organizing agency Bikin’ Cyprus. “This shows to me and my team, that we should continue to go step by step further. Our goal is to attract more and more amateur and fun riders to Cyprus. For racing, but also for training and enjoying, what the island offers in atmosphere and culture.”
Upcoming Sunday round 2 in Voroklini will close the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2016. Again a lot of world class riders are supposed to fight for the victory and for the points.