A week before Cyprus Sunshine Cup we caught up with a few Brits who’ll kick off their race season on the Mediterranean island. Each rider had a very different winter with Imogen Buick battling the British weather, Steve James racing a full cyclocross calendar including the recent World Championships, and the Batchelor brothers escaping to South Africa.
This winter Imogen Buick has been enjoying the freedom of daytime training now she’s completed her academic years. The aggressive British winter weather has been a challenge but Imogen is feeling positive about her first year racing as a senior and can’t wait to race the Cyprus Sunshine Cup for a the second time.
“I raced the one day XC race at Cyprus Sunshine Cup last year as a bit of an excuse for a holiday really. But I loved it there, the riding and racing and the country. We (Anna and I) just really wanted to go back. I wanted to do the stage race as something different and a challenge it’s HC Cat so real good for points and my goal this year is to get enough to race the World Cups. I love racing World Cups!! The stage race will be awesome, but also super scary. It’s a massive step for me into the senior categories in a really top class field but why not!?
Winter training has been okay despite the winter weather. It’s quite hard to gauge my form as I don’t really have any marker points as to how I am doing but I raced the 2hr Thetford winter series a few weeks ago finishing 2nd elite woman and definitely came away feeling positive. Training for me at the moment hasn’t been too tough really. Coming out of full time education where I was trying to fit rides in after school at 5pm to now having all day at home and working from 6 has made things better for me. The weather has posed a bit if a challenge. Its tough sometimes to get motivated to go out training in the pouring rain, but its important to do some good miles whilst staying healthy and not getting ill. But things have gone quite well so far. Training in the wet and cold isn’t great and I’m just hoping it doesn’t snow or get too icy as that’s when the real problems start. I am not a turbo girl!
Another thing that’s posed a problem for me is finding people to ride with. Winter training is pretty lonely as there isn’t really anyone close to me to ride with. Having training partners is so good for moral and challenging yourself, I really miss that.”
Steve James has had a busy winter racing a full cross season culminating in selection for the Great Britain Team and a 31st place finish at World Cyclocross Championships. The Cyprus Sunshine Cup will be the first mountain bike event of the year for the former World Cup XC junior podium rider.
“I’ve chosen to do the Sunshine cup this year because it is a great way to start off the race season with good conditioning due to 5 races in the space of 10 days. Always well attended it gives you a chance to race with the worlds’ top riders and race with them on a variety of terrains and race lengths over the 4 day stage race and then a final XC showdown on the last weekend. The great advantage of going to Cyprus is the quality of training that is possible between events due to the mountainous landscape and usually good weather for the time of year. Not too hot though we don’t need that yet!
I have done the sunshine cup before, 2 years ago. It was a good way to start the season combined with good training with Ben Sumner at the time. I had mixed results last time around and want to come into this race stronger than ever before and with a new mind set on international races.
Training this winter has gone well with a cyclocross focus but not totally missing out on endurance training, but the few weeks leading up to Cyprus will now differ and include more MTB related training. I’m happy with how the winter has gone and hope I can carry good form into the MTB season.”
Hamish and Seb Batchelor have taken a different approach to winter training and been fortunate enough to spend the winter training in South Africa based in Stellenbosch. Cyprus Sunshine Cup will open up what could be a big year for this fast duo.
Hamish Batchelor, “this will be the first time we have been to Cyprus or raced the Sunshine Cup. This year it fits well with our season based around the World Cup, as it’s more XCO orientated than marathon. And we’re hoping to miss the snow of last season (at Andalucia Bike Race)! UCI points are of course always a consideration, although we’re 3rd and 4th Brits on the World Ranking already so have a good start.
The standard of competition out in Cyprus will be very high which will be excellent preparation for our first major goal – World Cup 1 Pietermaritzburg in April.”
Seb Batchelor, “The Cyprus Sunshine Cup fits well in the calendar from a number of angles for us. It starts a couple of weeks after we get back from Stellenbosch, South Arica, so we will be coming in to form. Being a stage race and how it is comprised it should be perfect for kick starting and easing back in to racing, and given its location hopefully the weather will be favourable which is always a plus.
We’ve had a great winters (or summers!) training again in Stellenbosch. We have refined and been even more specific with our training this year and that has shown with the quality of our sessions on the bike and in the gym. Having a season based around the World Cup series for the first time has meant we have been able to plan what we are doing far more easily than in the past which is already paying off.”
These are just four British riders from a large contingent travelling to Cyprus Sunshine Cup. We hope to bring you coverage during the event including further rider interviews. Keep it tuned to MarathonMTB.com