The Cyprus Sunshine Cup is once again a playground for the World Elite of mountain bike racing. The 2012 Olympic Champion, Jaroslav Kulhavy, and 2017 World Championship bronze medalist, Thomas Litscher, will return to the sunny island. The Ghost Factory Racing Team will also be in attendance with their Under 23 World Champion, Sina Frei. In addition, 2016 Olympic Road Race Champion, Anna van der Breggen, will take a second chance on the Sunshine Cup.
Van der Breggen’s first attempt at the Sunshine Cup unfortunately failed before it started when she got an infection days before the race and had to sit it out. Cyprus Sunshine Cup organizers are pleased that the Dutchwomen – who has had another incredibly successful year on the road - has deferred rather than cancelled her entry. The Boels Dolmans rider has announced that she still wishes to race on the mountain bike, and it will be interesting to see if she can walk in the footsteps of her compatriot, Marianne Vos, who was able to win in Cyprus in 2013 at the beginning of her foray into cross-country mountain biking.
The competition with which Anna van der Breggen has to deal, however, is of immense quality. In addition to 2017 World Cup overall winner, Yana Belomoina (CST Sandd American Eagle), and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Merida), other high-profile women have also announced their entries. Annika Langvad of Specialized Racing, reigning Marathon World Champion and 2016 Cross Country Champion from Denmark, is contesting the Afxentia stage race in preparation for the World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
This also applies to U23 World Champion, Sina Frei. The Swiss star who now rides for Ghost Factory Racing is, despite her tender 20 years of age, expected to compete closely with the Elite riders.
The Ghost team has travelled to Cyprus for many years to use the Mediterranean island as a training base and a competition destination. Hungarian Champion Barbara Benko, Dane Malene Degn and Austrian Lisa Pasteiner will also be there. Unfortunately, their team-mate Anne Terpstra can not compete in Afxentia following an ankle fracture she suffered two weeks ago.
World Championship Silver and Bronze Medalists to Compete
We are pleased to say that Jaroslav Kulhavy remains a permanent feature of the entry list. The 33-year-old Czech, who has won all the titles that can be won in the endurance disciplines of mountain biking, has been coming to Cyprus continuously since his early professional years, laying the foundations for countless successful seasons.
Kulhavy, who won silver at the World Championships, will contest the four stages of the Afxentia with the World Championship bronze medalist, Thomas Litscher (jb Brunex Felt). The Swissman has finally returned to top form after a long period of suffering and will certainly be one to watch in 2018.
Grant Ferguson (CST Sandd American Eagle) will also be a favourite for the podium. Ferguson is a previous Sunshine Cup stage winner and this weekend he showed his form with a win at the Costa Blanca Bike Race.
With the Sunshine Cup coming only two weeks before the opening 2018 World Cup in South Africa, we can be sure that the professionals will be in fine form and ready to put on a great performance in Cyprus.