It was a great day for Specialized Racing with Jaroslav Kulhavy and Annika Langvad both taking victory on Stage 3 of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. Today’s 61km loop from Lythrodontas brought them both closer to the overall lead, but Lars Forster and Anna van der Breggen retain their jerseys going into tomorrow’s final stage.
Lars Forster, sporting his fresh leader’s jersey and with a plan to control the race and defend his lead, was tucked in tight behind the lead car as the race wound out of Lythrodontas town square and headed up into the Macheras Forest for a fantastic showcase of some of Cyprus’ finest trails.
As the field headed down from the first summit to Feed Zone 1 at 21km, Forster still had the front of the race firmly in his sights. A group of 16 riders were together, with all the main contenders there.
Sebastian Fini Carstensen took to the head of the race as they traversed the singletracks, pushing the pace and creating small splits. Forster was stuck to his wheel like glue. David Nordemann and Howard Grotts followed, with Jaroslav Kulhavy next in line.
The front of the race didn’t begin to split up until the main descent of the day. Five kilometres of downhill gave Kulhavy the chance to create a gap. His teammate, Grotts, was under no pressure to chase and this left Forster with the task of closing down the strong Czech over the 15km of fire tracks that headed back down into Lythrodontas.
The gap was bridged and the three hurtled towards home together.
Forster had planned to overtake Kulhavy in the final corner but with the rain falling heavily it was too slippery. Kulhavy took the win, Forster claimed second and Grotts took third with only 2 seconds lost.
Today’s results leave us with a tantalisingly close overall competition: just 44 seconds separate Forster, Grotts and Kulhavy at the top of the General Classification.
Langvad Lights It Up
After two days of punctures spoiling her party, Annika Langvad was Queen of Stage 3 with a dominant performance.
The Women’s race split much earlier than the Men’s, with Langvad already having established a 20 second lead at Feed Zone 1. She had worked together with fellow Specialized rider, Anna van der Breggen, in the opening climbs, but Langvad’s superior technical skills allowed her to build a big advantage on the descents after Van der Breggen graciously let her pass.
With Langvad out front, Van der Breggen and Erin Huck joined together in chase. Van der Breggen took up Huck’s offer to follow her wheel in the singltrack, and the two thus built a strong working partnership. In the end, however, van der Breggen was just too strong for Huck and she pulled away to claim second place. Huck crossed the line third, 23 seconds later.
Already at the finish, Annika was happy to finally have some luck, and a five-minute race lead left no doubt that she has some fine form too.
Sina Frei, who was second yesterday, was once again in the action. She worked together with her Ghost Factory Racing teammate, Barbara Benko, to drive for another top result. They slotted into fourth and fifth position on the first climb and held on to the finish.
After nearly six hours of racing, the General Classification is still led by Van der Breggen. She takes a 4 minute and 34 second lead into the cross-country race. Huck is in second place with a 1 minute and 40 second buffer over Frei. Langvad is in fourth, just two seconds behind Frei.
Despite the rain and mud, the riders had a great time on the trails.
Tomorrow’s fourth and final stage will head back to Macheras Forest, with the classic cross-country course on the cards. This might be a more familiar format of racing for most of the riders, but that certainly won’t make it any easier!
Full results here: www.activatecyprus.com/en/events/sunshinecup