Belomoina Dominates and Cink Finally Takes Top Step
Ukrainian, Yana Belomoina, won the final race of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup in Amathus, in front of Githa Michiels from Belgium and Russian, Kristina Ilina. The men’s race saw a Czech 1-2 by Ondrej Cink and Jan Skarnitzl, with German, Georg Egger, in third. The organizers ensured a positive balance despite the rainy day.
The riders did not have an easy end to the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. The afternoon sunshine was preceded by heavy rain, making the 4.72 kilometre long cross-country track at the gates of Limassol partly heavy mud, partly slippery mud. The 2.7 kilometre start lap was particularly difficult and split the races up early.
Yana Belomoina (CST Sandd Bafang) only had a real competitor until the second of five laps when Kristina Ilina (Russioan National Team), who had a surprisingly strong start, had to let the 2017 World Cup winner go.
Thereafter, the Ukrainian relentlessly pushed on and pulled away to confidently take the win in Amathus for the second time.
Last week Belomoina had still struggled to follow the pace of the top female riders, but today in Amathus she seemed to be have taken a step forward.
"It’s hard to say," Belomoina said of whether this was a true reflection of her progress. "Last week it was just too cold for me. I am happy that I can fly home with a win."
The muddy conditions on this track, which lies just east of Limassol, did not seem to bother her. "At the start it was so slippery and I had to ride after Ilina. I feel better and happy to be back. I also had a lot of support on the track here from people from Ukraine and Russia”, she explained with a laugh.
Behind the two top riders only a duo had formed, with Githa Michiels (Primaflor-Mondraker) and Marika Tovo (Ghost Factory Racing) fighting to make the connection to the front of the race.
Michiels spoke of a difficult start phase. "Everyone was looking for the best line on the slippery ground," said the Belgian.
She obviously did not opt for the best line and lost time in the early stages of the race. However, with the illness that she had suffered during Afxentia behind her, she set out in pursuit of the leaders. In the third lap she passed Ilina and, despite crashing and then deciding to relax a little and play it safe, managed a strong second place finish, 3:21 behind Belomoina and 1:23 ahead of Ilina.
The Russian riders was "shocked" with what is an outstanding result for the 20 year-old. "I was pretty excited when I was ahead with Yana Belomoina. In the start loop all had problems, but I somehow got through the best. After the first lap I got a bit tired. Downhill I was faster than Yana but I did not stand a chance in the climb”, she explained. "I'm very happy, I did not expect that.”
The two Ghost Factory racing riders, Marika Tovo and Lisa Pasteiner, finished fourth (+5: 39) and fifth (+8: 36).
Pasteiner’s fifth place today, together with her fourth place for Afxentia, gave her the orange jersey of the overall Cyprus Sunshine Cup winner, a great result for the young Austrian.
Behind them were the Swede, Linn Gustavzzon (ML Racing), and Irina Kalentieva (Möbel Märki) (+14: 27).
Kalentieva, a two-time former World Champion from Russia, was unlucky when her chain jammed in the start loop. "I was last and the race was over somehow. The first race was tough and then such conditions. If the legs are good, I can handle such races well, but today I just survived!”, she said with a big grin on her dirt-smeared face.
Leading Duo Dominate
Come the men’s race, the track had dried out somewhat and the conditions were much more favourable. Timofei Ivanov (Russian National Team), Ondrej Cink (Kross Racing) and Georg Egger (Lexware Mountain Bike Team) came off the opening lap with a lead, but Afxentia winner, Jan Skarnitzl (Mitas Mercedes-Benz Praha Trek) was able to catch up.
He took the lead in the second lap and produced a pace that Egger and Ivanov could only follow for half a lap. A Czech duo remained at the head of the race, whilst the gap to Egger, who had distanced Ivanov, grew slowly but surely.
In the penultimate of six laps, Skarnitzl made a mistake in a technical climb, and with a small gap created, Cink went on the attack.
"Until then, we rode together at a good pace, but when the gap was there, I went full throttle”, said Cink. The 2015 World Cup third place finisher was able to keep Skarnitzl at bay, although his compatriot was always within striking distance. In the finish, the two were separated by only two seconds after 1:24:52 hours of racing.
"Because I was sick before Afxentia, I am happy about my form and am happy about the victory. I think I can be optimistic about the Cape Epic”, said Cink.
For Skarnitzl, second place meant winning the Cyprus Sunshine Cup overall for the third time in his career. "Today was better than I thought. I was able to work with Ondrej, but then I made the mistake”, Skarnitzl said.
The German Vice Champion, Georg Egger, was very happy with his result. He was locked in a close battle with Ivanov for much of the race, but in the penultimate lap he was able to increase his lead over the Russian and secure third.
"It took me until Friday to recover from the Afxentia, but yesterday I realized that I was fine. When Jan pushed me, it soon became clear that I was unable to hold that pace. But I'm happy about the third place”, commented Egger, his time exactly three minutes behind Cink.
Dutchman, David Nordemann (CST Sandd Bafang), was able to overtake Ivanov into fourth place in the final lap with a strong finish.
A Positive Race Despite Rain
After the race, Mike Hadjioannou from the agency Bikin 'Cyprus drew a positive balance of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2019, even though the weather did not play along on this usually sunny island!
"It was a bit harder for the organization this time, but we can be satisfied with the numbers of participants," said Hadjioannou. "Now we are looking forward to addressing the changes in format that we have been considering for the years to come."