Each year, a subset of the elite mountain bike community kicks off the new race season at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. With five weeks until the opening round, the Flückiger brothers Lukas and Mathias from Trek World Racing Team are on the start list. It will be their first time racing on the sunny island.
With sights set on the 2012 Olympic Games and the spring World Cups serving as qualifiers for many nations, racers will have to come into the World Cup season at full speed.
The Flückiger brothers are among those fighting for Olympic team spots - in their case for Switzerland. 28-year-old Lukas was the runner-up at the 2010 European championship and has stood on several World Cup podiums during his career. 23-year-old Mathias was the U23 world champion and World Cup winner in 2010, but he now rides in the elite ranks.
The World Cup season will kick off in South Africa two weeks after the third and final weekend of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. In addition to good timing, the Cyprus Sunshine Cup usually is run in temperatures similar to what will be expected in South Africa - helpful for riders from colder climates who wish to acclimate early.
Swiss compatriot Fabian Giger has also committed to attend along with his Rabobank-Giant teammte Henk-Jaap Moorlag. Giger was sixth at the Offenburg World Cup in 2011, and Moorlag finished third at the U23 worlds in Champéry in 2011.
Furthermore, Swiss racer Mariel Saner-Guinchard (Bikepark.ch) and Frenchman Maxim Urruty will be on the startline in Cyprus while elite men's world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) announced earlier this week that he, too, will be racing.
"The list is already very prestigious up to now, but I expect some more important riders for the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2012," said organizer Mike Hadjioannou.
2012 Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2012
February 19: Voroklini (C1)
February 24-26: Afxentia Macheras Mountains (SHC)
March 4: Amathous-Agios-Tychon (C1)