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Osl sisters excited to make 2010 racing debut at Cyprus Sunshine Cup

Between the ancient ruins of Amathous, racers will compete in the final round of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup on Sunday. 2009 Women's World Cup overall winner Elisabeth Osl will be on hand to kick off her season, and favorite Jaroslav Kulhavys will return with the goal of repeating the success he saw with three stage wins at the Afxentia last weekend.

Osl is planning to follow the same training as last year since it worked so well for her. In 2009, she also started her season at Amathous. The Austrian is using her time on Cyprus to prepare for the upcoming World Cup season. Last year, she won the opening round at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.

"I'm excited to compete again. But it's always hard to do the first race," said Osl. Last year, she finished fifth in her Sunshine Cup season debut race.

Osl's older sister, Maria Osl (Fischer BMC) is also expected to race at on Sunday. Earlier Sunshine Cup round riders like Hanna Klein and Barbara Benkó (both Rothaus-Cube) will face tougher competition for podium spots against the newcomers.

Dane Annika Langvad (HMTBK) will be racing with the intention of grabbing the overall Sunshine Cup title and based on her performance in Afxentia, she is the favorite for Amathous, too.

Elisabeth Brandau (Haibike), Alexandra Engen (Rothaus-Cube) and Janka Stevkova (CKEpic-Dohnany) are other contenders to watch. Stevkova (170 points) is sitting in second place in the overall classification, 30 points behind Langvad and 10 ahead of Engen.

A Race inside the race for the orange jersey

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Rubena Birell Specialized) put in three impressive rides for three stage wins in often adverse conditions last weekend at teh Afxentia stage race. This sets him up as a favourite to grab the final round of Cyprus Sunshine Cup.

Remembering 2009, Kulhavy won the Amathous race and the Czech is comfortable with the 5.1-kilometer cross country course. It has changed a little bit from last year, but the characteristics are the same. There are now more parts where it is possible to overtake other riders.

"You can ride it more with more fluidity," said promoter Mike Hadjioannou. The start / finish has also moved to the archeological site at Amathous.

Kulhavy will have nearly the same competition as he did last weekend. Emil Lindgren (Rabobank-Giant), Periklis Ilias (ISD) and Roel Paulissen (Cannondale) are always on the list as possible podium contenders. Jiri Friedl (Merida) and Christoph Soukup (Merida) both were disappointed about their flat tires at Afxentia and will be looking to make up for their misfortune.

Jan Skarnitzl (Dimp-Giant) still leads the general classification by 185 points to 160 of Paulissen and 158 to Lindgren. The classification competition will provide a race within a race as the riders compete for the final orange GC jersey.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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