The longest day of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup lay ahead on day 2 with 31 miles and 4000 feet of climbing. There was none of the nervous waiting like yesterday with racers set to roll out of the start town Lefkara at 11am with a 3.5km paced lead out. Yesterdays winners Adelheid Morath and Jan Skarnitz led stage 2 out over the start line.
The route for today began with a 11 mile climb rising over 3000 feet to the first feed point before entering a fast singletrack descent lasting about 5 miles down to feed 2, definitely one of the best singletrack trails I’ve raced in Europe. The next 4 miles sped riders through to the final feed point. The final section was made up of fast flowing often loose forestry track leading you to the bottom of a steep lung busting climb back into Lefkara. On the descent there was plenty of ‘euro bombing’ on display! The final 5 kilometre climb punished everyone but particularly those who’d burnt their matches on the first long climb and those who hadn’t pre ridden.
Giant riders Jolanda Neff and Fabian Giger took the second stage of Afxentia stage race and also the overall lead. Giger (Sui) would beat Ondrej Cink (Cze) and Julian Schelb (Ger). In the women’s Neff (Sui) lead Annika Langvad (Den) and Adelheid Morath (Ger) over the line.
Fabian Giger commented, “Today the feeling was good and the result. In the uphill sections I felt very good, but I think Jan Skarnitzl would have been a strong contender without his flat tire. It’s great to have such a good start into the season”.
Neff had reason to smile after finishing 2:30 minutes in front of the next competitor. “I felt very comfortable today. The downhill was really cool”.
The Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cyling Team had another good day with myself placing 38th. Using my experience from marathon racing I managed to ‘surf’ the peloton during the hectic 3.5km neutralised start sitting near the front and once the green flag was waved I even had the energy to lead with Andre Cink of Multivan Merida whilst the media snapped their photos! For Sam this was the longest race he’s raced and a learning experience having just moved from Junior to Elite. He had a strong stage enjoying the trails finishing in 80th place.
Lee Williams was top Brit in 32nd followed home by David Fletcher in 33rd, Jason Bouttell 36th, Hamish Batchelor 41st, Seb Batchelor 48th, Callum Riley 98th and Steven James 99th. In the women’s Maxine Filby was 32nd, Rachel Fenton 36th, Ruth Owen Evans 37th and Imogen Buick in 40th.
Tomorrow stage 3 covers 24 miles with 3800 feet of climbing. With 2700 feet of climbing occurring between mile 4 and 14 it’s going to be another tough day of racing.