Day 4 of the Afxentia stage race would be a multi-lap XCO race at Mantra tou Kampiou, the final stage would showcase the talented world class athletes that had gathered in Cyprus. Another hazy day dawned but with warm temperatures from the early hours it was sure to be a hot on and off the race track. All eyes were on the yellow jersey wearers of Fabian Giger and Jolanda Neff, would they be able to hold on for one more stage.
The course was a 6km circuit with sections of loose, steep rocky singletrack joined by lung busting fireroad sprints.
Annika Langvad and Jan Skarnitzl took the last win at the Afxentia stage race, while Fabian Giger and Jolanda Neff (both SUI) in Macheras completed their overall victories. In the cross country race Neff came into second in front of Blaza Klemencic (Slo). Skarnitzl won the stage in front of Ondrej Cink (Cze) and Fabian Giger.
Fabian Giger successfully tried to defend his overall lead. “The stage was not so important. I was looking on Ondrej Cink and tried to keep with him”, Giger explained his action in the seven man leading group.
Cink at the beginning attacked but could not hold the lead. “I lost too much power and for some laps I had to fight to keep with the leading group”, Cink confessed. Meanwhile his country mate Jan Skarnitzl accelerated in the third of five laps (per 5,7 km plus Start-Loop of 4km) and escaped.
“I am used to train in the wind. So maybe that was an advantage when I was riding solo in front. I was angry all the days without my normal bike, which is still at the airport in Vienna. And also with the mechanicals in day 2 and 3. So I am happy that my good shape finally came to a result”, Skarnitzl told.
In the second lap Annika Langvad realised that Neff was fading. “I felt not like I was over the limit. So I decided to continue my own rhythm”, Langvad explained how she started her solo to win the last stage.
“I switched into race mode today. This morning I felt, that it could happen. First, in the warm-up I was in doubt again, but after spinning for half an hour, the feeling came back”, Langvad explained while laughing. “I am happy to have this final in the Afxentia.”
Despite the gap increasing Jolanda Neff never was in danger to loose her overall lead. At the end, there was a 1:35 minutes gap to Langvad, but she could defend her second position on the last day.
“Today my goal was the overall and it is pretty cool to get this yellow jersey. Of course, I felt a little bit tired after three days, but probably most of the girls do. I have two second places and two stage wins. How could that be better?” Jolanda Neff commented on her Afxentia appearance.
From Britain Lee Williams finished 27th, Jason Bouttell 32nd, David Fletcher 33rd, Hamish Batchelor 37th, Seb Batchelor 45th, and Steven James 80th. David Fletcher and Lee Williams came out on top in the overall classification finishing 27th and 28th. In the women’s Maxine Filby stormed to 29th place, Imogen Buck 36th, Ruth Owen Evans 37th, Maxine Filby was top Brit in the general classification 30th.
The Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team had another tough day. Ben struggled to recover from the fast pace efforts of yesterday and could only ride at marathon speed today, that speed just wasn’t enough and eventually finished 54th. Ben enjoyed riding the middle few laps with teammate Sam, almost in a team timetrial. Sam was riding well but suffered an unfortunate puncture just after the start finish line, he didn’t complete the lap and was therefore awarded a DNF despite finishing 5 laps of the race. Ben added another 50km’s to the stage race by riding back to the apartment!
Tomorrow the riders can rest, then enjoy some mid week training before racing the UCI Category 1 Voroklini Cross Country next Sunday.