The favourites were in their place at the second round of Cyprus Sunshine Cup at Amathous. Frenchman, Jordan Sarrou, and Ukrainian, Yana Belomoina, took victory on a lovely sunny day on the border of the Mediterranean Sea. Sarrou soloed to the win in front of Karl Markt (Aut) and Jan Skarnitzl (Cze), while Belomoina won ahead of Barbara Benko (Hun) and Alexandra Engen (Swe). The race between the ancient ruins capped off another successful Cyprus Sunshine Cup in fine style.
It was nothing less than impressive how Jordan Sarrou escaped from the rest of the bunch. During the shortened start lap, Litscher followed Sarrou, but during the first of five complete laps (4,7km) the BH-Sr Suntour-KMC rider had already put the hammer down.
Within two laps he increased his lead up to one minute. “When I was in front alone, it was hard to push myself more. But if one would have come closer, then I would have been able to accelerate again”, Sarrou said, explaining why the lead did not continue to increase.
Behind him, Thomas Litscher (jb Brunex Felt) was struggling during lap three so Karl Markt (Möbel Märki) was able to close and pass the Swiss rider.
Meanwhile, Jan Skarnitzl (Sram Mitas Trek) suffered a bad start after a rider in front of him had troubles with his chain. Skarnitzl came from fifteenth position, a hard-fought battle on the Amathous course where there are few chances to overtake. When he reached Karl Markt in the penultimate lap, Skarnitzl tried to pass the Austrian but without success. “He knows where the parts to overtake are and I know, too. So I gave everything, when he tried”, laughed Markt.
Skarnitzl tried his luck more than once. “It was a challenge with Charly (Markt). I think I tried it five times to attack and pass him”, Skarnitzl was also laughing. In the end the dicing duo finished just 0.20 seconds apart, with Markt in second and Skarnitzl third (+1:11 behind Sarrou).
Litscher recovered from his tough period, but couldn’t make it back to the duo and ultimately finished fourth (+1:55), while Belgian, Sebastian Carabin (Merida Wallonie), took fifth place (+3:55).
Jordan Sarrou took the victory in Amathous and with that the overall in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup classification.
Jordan Sarrou: “I am happy with all my Cyprus races. Two Afxentia stage wins, today victory and the overall, that’s all a perfect start into the season. I enjoyed racing and training on Cyprus.”
Karl Markt: “It was a hard thing today. The course demands everything of a cross country rider. Jordan was too strong for the rest, I could not follow his speed. To be second here and fifth at the Afxentia makes the weeks on Cyprus top. It couldn’t have been a better start into the season for me.”
Jan Skarnitzl: “After the troubles at the beginning, it was quite difficult to get to the front again. I like this course, but it’s hard to overtake. Anyway, I am happy with my two weeks on Cyprus, we had sun and some perfect training.”
Women: Belomoina climbs strongly to take victory
It was a great display of cross country racing in the women’s competition: Former Swedish champion and XCE World Champion, Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing), took the front position and then pushed hard enough to create a leading group with Barbara Benko (Focus XC) and Yana Belomoina (CST Sandd American Eagle).
Behind them, Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory Racing) blocked Afxentia winner, Githa Michiels (Versluys), for some moments.
Engen lead the race through the first lap, but then began to fade. As fair as she is known, she peeled over to let Belomoina and Benko pass. “I did not want to be responsible that the two were caught because I was slowing down”, explained Engen.
Michiels secures overall
Benko was surprised about this gesture and later thanked Engen. The Hungarian champion held the pace whilst Engen lost more and more time.
On lap three it was Belomoina who took over the lead. The Ukrainian pushed hard on the steep and long uphill and, once she got a gap on Benko, continued her effort towards a solid victory. She finished forty-four seconds ahead of Benko and took her first win in Amathous and her first of the 2017 season.
Githa Michiels was suffering from a cold she got during the week and so was not in full racing mode. She tried to keep the gaps closed but at the end of lap three of four, she lost Engen out of sight.
Engen conserved her third place, 1:20 down.
Michiels, meanwhile, defended her lead in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup overall and took the win for the first time.
Yana Belomoina: “I am very happy. It feels good to have such a start into the season. At the beginning I was a bit suffering in the head wind, but then it went better and better. I like this climb and it was my plan to attack there. Now I have one more week to enjoy beautiful Cyprus.”
Barbara Benko: “Yana was always stronger in the uphill, so I knew that she can make good time there. She was the better one today, that’s okay. I am fine for myself, feeling that the shape is okay and I am in a good way.”
Alexandra Engen: “I did not look back, that does not help anyway. I faded a bit, that’s why I let them pass. But finally I found some more energy to save my position. I gave all I had today and that’s fine.”
Githa Michiels: “Unfortunately I got a cold this week. I tried it, but then I lost the group in the downhill and could not follow immediately. I was happy to see that I was still strong despite the cold. I am finally happy with the overall victory. I like Cyprus, it’s perfect to get the right feeling on the mountain bike.”
Best Cyprus Sunshine Cup ever!
After the last day of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2017, organizer, Mike Hadjioannou, stated: “From the organizing point of view it was perhaps the best Cyprus Sunshine Cup we ever had. The feedback, especially on the Afxentia Stage Race, was amazing and motivates us for more. Thanks to the Cyprus Tourism Organization, the other sponsors and the Cyprus Cycling Federation for all their support.”
Concerning the future, Hadjioannou is aiming to go one step forward, especially for the Amateurs format. “The elite format is accepted quite well. For the amateurs we have some ideas and will follow them with all the motivation we got out of these two weeks.”