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Alexandra Engen and Periklis Ilias
Swede Alexandra Engen and Ukrainian Sergiy Rysenko earned victories in the fourth and final round of...
Swede Alexandra Engen and Ukrainian Sergiy Rysenko earned victories in the fourth and final round of the Sunshine Cup in Voroklini on Sunday. With her win, Engin locked up the overall series title, but in the men's race, Greek Periklis Ilias overtook the men's series lead from Emil Lindgren.
By the last lap, the men's competition appeared to be effectively decided. Alexander Wetterhall (Focus) had started an early attack and was out for a long solo effort, about one minute ahead of a five-man chase group.
Sergiy Rysenko (ISD Cycling) then escaped off the front of this group while his teammate Christoph Bischof stayed in the group and controlled attacks.
"Alexander Wetterhall attacked directly after the start and he was so fast, that we couldn't follow," said Bishof.
Rysenko was looking good for second place until Wetterhall got a flat and had to run to the next technical zone to change his wheel. The Ukrainian champion Rysenko got so close that when Wetterhall jumped back on his bike after the repair, it was just ahead of his Ukranian chaser.
After his technical difficulties, Wetterhall appeared to lose his rhythm and a bit later, he could not follow an attack launched by Rysenko on an uphill section.
"I had super legs today. Even though I had bad luck at the end, it was a great day for me," said Wetterhal. "Shit happens. After changing the wheel, my legs were very stiff and I was not able to follow Sergiy."
At the end, eight seconds separated Wetterhall in second and winner Rysenko, whose win was perfectly timed to coincide with his 29th birthday.
"It is a nice birthday present for me, even though it came through the bad luck of Alexander," said Rysenkol. "I felt very strong today and I'm really happy to get a win in Cyprus."
Periklis Ilias, also from the ISD Cycling Team, crashed on the first lap and lost contact with the chasing group. He ended up in sixth and took the overall win ahead of his teammates Rysenko and Bischof.
In the women's race, Lene Byberg (Specialized) and Alexandra Engen (Merida) were at the front working together after less than one lap. Their pairing was an advantage given the strong winds out on the course, and they soon extended their lead to one minute.
"For awhile, we worked together because we didn't want more women with us," said Engen.
Then, on the second of four laps, in a downhill section, Engen created a small gap between her and Byberg and kept it all the way to the finish.
Byberg was a little stronger on the uphills, but when the trails turned down, she deliberately kept is safe following an injury from a crash during last week's round in Amathous.
"I couldn't follow Alexandra on the downhills," said Byberg. "That normally should not happen with my full suspension bike," she joked, "But with my injured right wrist, I was playing it safe. I felt very good on the climbs."
At the end, just 10 seconds separated the 26-year-old Byberg and the 21-year-old Engen.
"To win again, that makes me super satisfied," said Engen. "I knew, my form was better than last year but I couldn't have expected three victories in this series. What that means for the bigger races, I don't know. We will see." Engen took the overall classification with three wins out of four races.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the final round of the Sunshine Cup.