After a week of rest since the Afxentia Stage Race, mountain bikers will head to round four of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup at Voroklini. All three male podium contenders from last Sunday's cross country Roel Paulissen, Jaroslav Kulhavy, and Andreas Kugler are registered along with Sunshine Cup newcomers European marathon championship bronze medallist Moritz Milatz and Manuel Fumic, both of whom will be making their 2008 season debut. Fumic finished fifth at the World Championships in 2007.
Round three of the Sunshine Cup, which also served as stage three of the Afxentia, saw tight competition with no decision made among the four strongest racers until the final lap. Paulissen now leads the overall ranking and is the top favorite for round two, but Jaroslav Kulhavy's performances, including his win on Sunday, have not gone unnoticed and Andreas Kugler and Christoph Soukup are two more to watch. The latter was stopped last weekend by a crash.
Compared to last year's race, the Voroklini cross country course has changed its direction and gained more singletrack – something that should suit Kulhavy. Karl Platt is sitting on third place overall in the Sunshine Cup and if he has recovered, may be a strong contender Sunday.
On the women's side, favorites include Sabine Spitz, Tereza Hurikova, Petra Henzi, Elisabeth Osl and Heather Irmiger. German Spitz will be looking for a hat trick. She won both Sunshine Cup races last weekend ahead of Czech Tereza Hurikova, she is set for another battle. Challenging them will likely be 38 year-old Petra Henzi, marathon world champion. If the in-form Henzi goes with mechanical problems on this round, she could beat both Hurikova and Spitz.
Sunshine Cup round one winner Heather Irmiger will be hoping to come back strong after recovering from the Axfentia stage race. Two other Germans to watch include Katrin Schwing and Adelheid Morath as they both begin their competitive season.