Says Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa:
Result is not important, but I love winning
One week after the exciting Afxentia stage race, the second and final round of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup takes place in Voroklini. Four Olympic gold medalists on Sunday, 6 of March, are in game. Afxentia overall winner Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa and Sabine Spitz are leading women’s bunch and Jaroslav Kulhavy could take a kind of revenge after having bad luck in Sundays Afxentia stage. The schedule for the races was changed.
After one year break, the traditional course in Voroklini is back in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. On the six kilometer lap two years ago 2004 Olympic champion Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan-Merida) took the third spot on the podium (behind Jolanda Neff and Blaza Klemencic), but the upcoming Sunday, the Norwegian legend of mountain biking should be the first name to mention, when it comes to the favorites in women’s race.
"I hope I have good day. It’s still training. Of course racing is an important part of all the training. Getting a good feeling, is the most important thing on Sunday", Dahle-Flesjaa explains, " the result is not." But then she starts laughing. "Of course, I love winning. I probably always do as long as I do this sport. But it’s not the goal."
Not on this Sunday in Voroklini. Dahle-Flesjaa feels quite good recovered from four days racing Afxentia. "The legs were not super today, but much better than yesterday. That means a good recovery. There were a lot of positive things out of this stage race."
There are some other ladies, who could interfere. First of all it’s Sabine Spitz. The Bejing Olympic champion showed an impressive shape at the Afxentia. Maybe she never was that strong in this early part of the season than this year. "We changed some things in the preparation and it’s nice to realize that it worked out very well", says Spitz, who finished fourth at the Afxentia after puncturing on second stage.
"My goal is to get as much points as possible and to have another good race", the 44 years old German says.
Githa Michiels (Versluys) took third position at Afxentia – without finishing on the podium on the stages. "I hope, I am able to catch up on this in Voroklini", the Belgian national champ says while smiling. "But I am pretty happy with my shape in every case."
Yana Belomoina (CST Superior Brentjens) visited the hospital on Monday to check her shoulder. After a crash in training camp in Spain, she again went down on third stage and again on the same part of the body. Finally the x-ray brought an all-clear signal. Nothing is broken, only the muscles are bruised.
So the bronze medalist of the worlds 2015 is ready to race and compete for a podium.
Further more there are Eliminator world champion Linda Indergand (Focus XC) and former world cup overall winner Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools), who are on the watch list.
London Olympic gold medalist Julie Bresset (BH-Sr Suntour-KMC) should be healthy again. She is also one to pay attention for.
Men: Kulhavy plays it down a bit
Ondrej Cink (Multivan-Merida) was the last time winner of the Voroklini race. In 2014 he beat his compatriot Jan Skarnitzl (Sram Mitas Trek) and Swiss Thomas Litscher.
Cink was also sick, but he reports healthiness again. "I did some recovery training after the Afxentia. On Thursday I will try on the course some pushing again. I have to have the intensity now. We will see how it goes on Sunday", says the worlds bronze medalist from Czech Republic.
His team mate Thomas Litscher still feels not completely fit. "I hope the sun on Cyprus turn the things around. That’s why I extended my stay on the island", the u23 world champion of 2011 tells.
Jaroslav Kulhavy took the victory in Voroklini three years ago. The London Olympic champion was set back in his offence at last stage of Afxentia, when he punctured. Maybe it’s time to take a revenge on Sunday, but Kulhavy plays it down a bit. "We will see. The shape is getting better and better, but I would be happy to find myself in the top five", the 31 years old Czech says.
Regarding what happened in the cross country race at Mantra tou Kampiou, French rider Maxime Marotte (BH-Sr Suntour-KMC) has to recognized as top favorite for Voroklini. He was second in the overall and second on the last stage.
"The season started better than expected. I am looking forward to the next step", comments Marotte.
His team mate Jordan Sarrou also improved during the four Afxentia stages.
We should also mention Jan Skarnitzl and the Belgian Sebastian Carabin (Merida-Wallonie) and not to forget Nicola Rohrbach (goldwurst-power/Felt). The Swiss was not too far away from the top during Afxentia and on the power course at Voroklini he should be able to be up with the best.
The organization in agreement with the chief commissaire decided to change Sunday’s schedule. The women will have an own race. The new schedule:
The new schedule
- 09:00 Start NON-UCI races
- 10:30 Callup Women Elite
- 10:45 Start Women Elite
- 12:30 Callup Men Elite
- 12:45 Start Men elite
- 14:30 Award Ceremony for all categories