Racers seek early season form in mountain bike series
Cyprus Sunshine Cup overall winners Annika Langvad and Jan Skarnitzl have confirmed they will return to defend their overall titles in 2011. The pair will race the three-round mountain bike series on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus along with others from the Milka-Trek and Rabobank-Giant teams, which have also just committed to the series. The series will start on February 20 and end on March 6.
In last year's series, 10 months ago, Danish racer Langvad put in a strong performance, taking the women's win in Voroklini and the Afxentia stage race. She built some early season form that later helped carry her to a victory in the Danish national championships and a bronze medal at the marathon world championships. In 2010, she'll be racing in new colors - for the Easton Rockets.
Czech racer Skarnitzl, 24, will return to Cyprus on a different team, too: Rubena-Specialized-Birrel. In 2010, he won the opener at Voroklini and then finished third in the two other rounds. It proved a good start to a season during which he climbed from 48th to 15th in the UCI's world rankings.
Milka-Trek will be bringing young Polish biker Marek Konwa and Finn Jukka Vastaranta while its Dutch rivals from Rabobank-Giant are bringing Swede Emil Lindgren, who won the overall Sunshine Cup title in 2009.
The 2011 Cyprus Sunshine Cup, co-organized by Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) and Cyprus Cycling Federation (CCF), will contain the same three races as in 2010. However, changes will be made to the Afxentia stage race. It's second day, a marathon, will start in the village of Kapedes, which adds 4.2km and 100m of climbing to what was a 42km event.
At every event, there will be an open category, and at the Afxentia stage race, the second day, a point-to-point race, is also open to amateur mountain bikers.
2011 Cyprus Sunshine Cup
February 20: Voroklini (UCI Cat. 1)
February 25 to 27: Afxentia Macheras Mountains (UCI Cat. SHC)
March 6: Amathous-Agios-Tychon (UCI Cat. 1)