Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa has fallen in love with Cyprus and the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. The most successful female mountain biker of all time will compete for the fourth time at the Afxentia stage race on 23 February, and of course the Norwegian is one of the favourites.
Three years ago the record World Champion used the Cyprus Sunshine Cup as a preparatory building block for her season for the first time. It certainly seemed to work, as she has since repeated this program on our sunny Mediterranean island each year.
In 2017 Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa will once again be in the village of Tochni and using the Afxentia stage race as preparation for the upcoming season. "I've started my season in Cyprus over the past few years, and it has been great," says Dahle-Flesjaa. “Cyprus is great, a fantastic place to go cycling. A lot of sun, a great event and great food.”
Dahle-Flesjaa, 29-time World Cup winner and Olympic Champion of 2004, will be 44 in February (‘young’, as she would say!), and she still feels fit and motivated enough to keep going. In 2016 she was twice amongst the action at the front of World Cup races, and there is no question that she will try to complete her 30th win this year.
Together with the national team
"I'll go through a whole cross-country season," she says, although under what conditions are yet unknown to us. After the end of the Multivan Merida team, with whom she had been with for 15 years, nothing has been announced about a new formation.
"I will race most races together with the Norwegian national team," Dahle-Flesjaa explains. More information can not be given just yet. "When we get to Cyprus, I know more," she adds.
It has been known for some time that the Time Trial at the Road World Championships in Norway is a goal for Dahle-Flesjaa, and perhaps in that, we have some clues towards her season. However, for now, the title defense of the Afxentia stage race is a focus and a challenge that Dahle-Flesjaa looks forward to.
As for those not looking to take the win in Cyprus, Dahle-Flesjaa recommends Cyprus and the Cyprus Sunshine Cup for amateur riders as well. "I am completely convinced of it: the island has everything you need, and not just for mountain bikers, "she said last year.