In just under a months time racers will flock to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus for the 2014 edition of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. This year the event will consist of two rounds with a 4 day Afxentia stage race (February 27th – March 2nd) taking place a week before a single day cross country race in Voroklini (March 9th). The Cyprus Sunshine Cup first took place in 1997 and has become a major early season fixture on the UCI calendar with top athletes looking to secure valuable points to help improve their World Cup gridding whilst also testing their legs following the long winter months of training.
Cyprus offers visitors a combination of sea, beaches and mountains. The island which is located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean sea, has perfect weather for cycling, especially in the months between October and April, when temperatures range between 15°C and 25°C. Cyprus combines attractive beaches with pine-clad peaks, busy modern Europeanised towns and tranquil old stone villages, vineyards and olive groves and ancient ruins.
The trails used for the Afxentia stage race are technically challenging and physically demanding, but also offer stunning views. The first stage will be a time trial event but unlike previous editions the race will not take place in the Macheras Mountains, but in Lefkara. The new second stage will start from there, too, while its finish will be in Skarinou. Lythrodontas will be the start-finish for stage 3, and the riders will ride the well known large loop through the Macheras Mountains. On stage 4 on Sunday, the cross country race at Mantra tou Kampiou concludes the competition, as a UCI HC- classified race.
Top riders already registered for the 2014 edition of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup include the Multivan-Merida team with legends Gunn-Rita Dahle-Felsjaa and Jose Hermida. The team’s younger talents Rudi van Houts, Ondrej Cink, Julain Schelb, and Thomas Litscher will also attend. Olympic Gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) will visit Cyprus for an eighth time. He will be joined by Czech riders Jan Skarnitzl (Sram Rubena Trek), and Tereza Hurikova (Specialized Racing), who has been on the podium several times at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup.
￼Riders will hope for warm weather and dry trails, these will certainly be a welcome sight for the British contingents who’ve battled one of the wettest winters on recent record. From the UK Seb and Hamish Batchelor (Fluid Fin Racing), Imogen Buick and Callum Riley (Newdale Cycles), Steven James (Hargroves Cycles), Jason Boutell (Dig Deep Coaching), Sam Stean and myself (Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team), Ruth Owen Evans (AQR Cycling) and David Fletcher (Orange Monkey Pro Team) will race the event.
Another rumoured British addition is marathon superstar Sally Bigham, her attendance is one to note and one that could trouble the usual podium contenders. Normally known for her marathon racing superiority Sally has already shown great form this year beating established cross country specialists during short distanced events. Not normally a person to show interest in the cross country racing a quick glance at Sally’s website reveals a surprising addition to her schedule, is her participation in the XCO World Cup in Czech Republic and Cyprus Sunshine Cup a sign the rider is targeting Commonwealth Games selection?
Riders still have time to enter for the 2014 race with online entries not closing until 2 days prior to the event. The organisers are also offering support to riders looking to book accommodation, race day assistance, and transport. The organiser’s websites also offers discount on car hire and flights.