Cross country mountain bike world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) spoke at a press conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday, just two days after winning the opening round of the Sunshine Cup in Voroklini.
The Czech racer has become a regular at the early season three-race series, and since the preparation has worked so well for him in the past, he's back again to kick off his season in the same way during this Olympic year.
"It's the sixth time in a row that I have come to Cyprus to ride the races of the Sunshine Cup," said Kulhavy. "It's a perfect preparation for the season. I like it very much. I can test my form, and I can test my new bike."
Kulhavy, who is also the defending World Cup champion and one of the favorites for an Olympic gold medal in London in August, finds the technically demanding trails of Cyprus to his liking.
The Sunshine Cup is organized by the Bikin' Cyprus agency and the Cyprus Cycling Federation. A representative, Alekos Orountiotis, was happy to hear words of praise from Kulhavy. "It's very important to have the world champion here. We are happy he is here. It shows the results of our efforts all these years."
The Sunshine Cup is one tool of the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) for increasing visitors to the island between November and March, but the series is taking nothing for granted. The recent financial crisis in the region has affected the event - financial support for the race has decreased.
"Hopefully, this is only for one year and we can support the Cyprus Sunshine Cup in the same way as the years before," said Orountiotis.
The press conference with Kulhavy was held in the building of the Cyprus National Olympic Committee. He departed the event, passing under the five huge Olympic rings mounted above the doorway, as he headed out to get ready for round two, the Afxentia stage race, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday.