Cyprus Sunshine Cup's final 2014 race on Sunday is drawing a top notch field. Former world champion Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC) is throwing her hat into the ring at the Voroklini cross country. She'll join Jan Skarnitzl (SRAM Rubena Trek) and Jolanda Neff (Giant Pro XC), who are favorites after round 1 of the Sunshine Cup at the Afxentia stage race last weekend.
Wloszczowska has been on the island of Cyprus for awhile, but she decided to sit out the Afxentia race last weekend while she allowed some inflammation in her left wrist to go down.
"I wouldn't have been able to compete four days in a row," she said. "It's getting better now, and I think for one day, it will be okay." Asked about her fitness, she said, "Hmm, of course, an inflammation concerns the whole body. I have to see, what's possible on Sunday."
Wloszczowska's teammate Neff would like to have her in the race. "It'd be great to have her with me. Myself, I would like to have a good race again. The last day at Afxentia I felt already a bit tired, but for Sunday, I should be fresh again. I do not know the Voroklini course yet, I am curious about it." Neff won the overall at Afxentia.
After Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) left Cyprus to finish preparation for the Cape Epic, Adelheid Morath (Sabine Spitz-Haibike) is most serious contender for the overall. The German was third at Afxentia and for three days, she showed up racing at a high level, especially when climbing.
Morath's Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike) was content with her performance last weekend, and she should be able to fight for a podium this weekend. The same goes for Blaza Klemencic (Feenstra-Felt), Elisabeth Osl (Ghost Factory Racing) and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).
Dahle Flesjaa said, "I am not in shape, I don't expect a lot. But racing is important for me to build up my technical skills and also as high intensity training. In training, you are riding not so fast as in a race. That's why I am here. You get everything you need on Cyprus, it's ideal for training and racing and the people are so nice. I appreciate that very much."
The Norwegian said her hip is ok after she bruised it in a crash at the Lefkara time trial.
Tereza Hurikova (Specialized Racing), Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz-Haibike), Katrin Leumann or Alexandra Engen (both Ghost Factory Racing) are also among the strong women's contenders.
Afxentia men's winner Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC) will be conspicuously absent at this weekend's Voroklini race as will Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing). That means Ondrej Cink (Multivan Merida) and his Czech compatriot Jan Skarnitzl (Sram Rubena Trek) will be the favorites after both rode very strongly last weekend.
"After Afxentia, I was a bit tired, but I think that is normal. I am going to fight for the podium again, but Jan looks very, very strong. He is the man to beat," Cink said on Wednesday. And now Skarnitzl will be able to race on his own bike, after he was forced to race a lent bike at Afxentia because his was not available." Skarnitzl's bike didn't make the plane to Cyprus on time for the racing in Afxentia.
Cink's Multivan Merida teammate José Antonio Hermida smiled, when asked about his ambitions. "I think, it should be better than last weekend."
Another Multivan Merida rider Julian Schelb said, "I think, José will be much stronger in Voroklini." Cink agreed. All three have been training together in Cyprus.
Young gun Schelb will be trying to repeat his strong Afxentia performance. "On Wednesday, I already felt good again in training. So I am hopeful to be competitive again," said Schelb.
Michiel van der Heijden (Giant Pro XC), who was stopped by a flat tire at Afxentia's cross country race, should be also a serious contender as well as his Dutch friend Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida). New in the game will be the German Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak-Ergon), who was on the Voroklini podium in 2012 (fifth).
Last year, Blaza Klemencic and the currently injured Jaroslav Kulhavy won the elite men's and women's races around the six-kilometre cross country course in Voroklini.