Giant triumphs: Stage and overall for Giger and Vos
Fabian Giger and Marianne Vos repeated her stage wins from Saturday and took the Afxentia stage race overall for their Giant Team. In men’s race the top three classification was the same as the day before, with Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy on second and Jan Skarnitzl on third.
In warm and sunny conditions Marianne Vos defeated Katrin Leumann and surprising Corinna Gantenbein.
“Fabian had one gear more.” This way, Nicola Rohrbach (Sui,Goldwurstpower/ Stöckli) described the situation in the leading group with two laps to go. Fabian Giger (Sui, Giant Pro XC), in the yellow jersey, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze, Specialied Racing) in the orange CSC leader jersey and Rohrbach were riding in the leading group, when they entered the pre last of five and a half laps.
Giger attacked and when he finished the lap, there was a gap of 50 seconds to Kulhavy, Rohrbach and Jan Skarnitzl (Sram Rubena Specialized), who was able to close the gap out of the chasing group with Matthias Wengelin (Swe, Naten Sater-Specialized) and Sebastian Carabin (Versluys).
Giger rode solid to his second stage win, with 20 seconds in reserve and secured his Afxentia overall victory. Kulhavy came into second place, three times in a row.
Jan Skarnitzl had a slow start, but came up stronger and stronger. He closed a gap of 30 seconds to Kulhavy and Rohrbach.
Only four seconds behind his country man Kulhavy, Skarnitzl took third spot on the podium and so defended same place at the overall classification.
Emil Lindgren (Swe), winner of the time trial on Friday suffered from a puncture in the very first lap and his Giant Pro XC team mate Henk-Jaap Moorlag (Ned) had two of them.
Fabian Giger: I must say, it was the best day of three. I felt super good. I had my eyes on the overall, the stage wasn’t so important for me. I often was in the lead and I accelerated because I thought, would be better in case of a flat tire to have some reserve. I am super happy with this weekend, also with training on Cyprus and the ambience in the team. I think, I am on the right way.
Jaroslav Kulhavy: I am second man. Big motivation for the upcoming weeks (laughing). No, it was just training and today I felt extra tired. In the second lap, I tried to attack, but this was all from my side. I am satisfied with my stay in Cyprus. It was very important for my season preparation.
Jan Skarnitzl: First lap, I was quite slow. Yesterday was hard. Then I found a good tempo. When I saw Jaroslav in front of me, I was motivated again. In the last lap, I tried to attack, but he was too strong. This season starts later than the years before. I have some more time to get into my speed. So I am very surprised about this success.
Nicola Rohrbach: Yesterday I struggled from the beginning. Perhaps I had only a bad day. The feeling was the same as, but today, I could follow the top guys. At the end I focused on Kulhavy, didn’t thought that Skarnitzl was so close. Fabian had one gear more than we. But at the end, I am super happy about my race.
Outstanding appearance of Vos – Klemencic with bad luck
In women’s race Marianne Vos (Rabobank/Liv Giant) continued with her outstanding appearance at Afxentia stage race. Unfortunately her biggest rival at this day in Macheras Mountains, Blaza Klemencic (Slo, Calcit Bike) had the bad luck of a flat tire.
The two were in front together, followed by Katrin Leumann (Sui, Ghost Factory Racing). The Swiss lost the contact uphill, but closed the gap always in the downhills. This goes on until the half of the race. Then first Klemencic lost every chance due her mechanical. Shortly after that, Leumann also had a rear flat tire. But she could make it slowly to the technical zone for a change, losing around one minute, but staying in second position.
Marianne Vos controlled her speed and rode safely to both, the stage and the overall victory. Leumann followed on second place, 2:10 back. The Swiss jumped to second place in the overall ranking, because Adelheid Morath (Sabine Spitz-Haibike) at this day was too tired to keep up the pace of the podium ladies.
The German finished on fifth, 4:05 back, but rescued the third spot in the overall classification.
The big surprise of the day was 26 years old Swiss rider Corinna Gantenbein. She was the strongest rider in the chasing group. In pre last of four and a half lap, the Fischer-BMC rider left the higher ranked Eva Lechner (Ita, Colnago-Südtirol) and Sabine Spitz (Ger, Sabine Spitz-Haibike) back.
Adelheid Morath, who had a slow start, came back into the chasing group, but was not able to follow the attack of Gantenbein. In the last lap she was joined by team mate Sabine Spitz and they came in as fifth and sixth.
Blaza Klemencic showed big fighting spirit, crossed the finish line by 12 minutes down, but couldn’t safe an overall podium spot. Behind Lechner, Spitz and Gantenbein, she was placed in seven.
Marianne Vos: This morning it was just to keep the control over the jersey. Last two days were really good and I hoped to be good enough to keep. So first I only tried to follow Blaza. When she unfortunately flatted, I kept on going in my own speed. I felt good, I liked the course, so everything was fine. It’s incredible to take the victory. Now I have enough points to compete in the world cup.
Katrin Leumann: After the flat tire, I could ride more or less, because I had the tubular tires. I always closed the gap in the downhills and when Blaza flatted I thought I have to take the risk to follow Marianne. Maybe that was too much. Anyway, I am very surprised that it worked out so well this weekend. I didn’t expect that. This morning I hoped, to defend the fourth position. Now I am second, that’s great.
Corinna Gantenbein: I knew that I am in a good shape. I had a good preparation through the winter and I feel very well. Last year I came closer to the top girls and this year, I knew, that I can touch them. I am happy with these three days.
Adelheid Morath: I felt very tired from yesterday, today I missed a lot. It was clear from the beginning. Lap by lap I found more the feeling for the bike and that’s what the races are also for. I am very positive about the last two days and I am surprised about. Third place in the overall is very good for me.
Sabine Spitz: At this point of the year, I don’t want to be in the race mode. In difference to other years, from the technical side, I feel not too bad. Not to compare with Katrin Leuman, of course, but I am satisfied, how it worked out for me.