Bartlomeij Wawak and Annika Langvad took top honours on Stage 2 of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup.
Following a 5km neutral start, the riders faced 52 kilometres and 1820 metres of climbing. But not only that, they faced rain, hail and cold conditions as Cyprus’ wet winter continues.
It was Ondrej Cink who led the Elite Men through feed zones 1 and 2, but he had strong company with the likes of Bartlomiej Wawak (Volkswagen Samochody Uzytkowe MYB Team), David Nordemann (CST Sandd Bafang), Howard Grotts (Specialized Racing), Jan Skarnitzl (Mitas Mercedes-Benz Praha Trek) and last year’s overall Sunshine Cup winner, Karl Markt (Austrain National Team) all within a few seconds.
Also holding onto the pace was a man who was greeted with huge congratulations at the finish line: Cypriot, Andreas Miltiadis. Third place on a stage of the Sunshine Cup was a big surprise:
“During the last period I was in good form but today is a dream! It’s crazy! On the last climb I could stay with Jan Skarnitzl and Howard Grotts and then I could attack and take third. I will try and stay with these guys again tomorrow but we will see – today was a big surprise. I’m proud of this; to come third in a race like this in my country is a dream.”
Polish Champion, Wawak, has had a busy month of racing, with three stage races already under his belt. Before the start he was unsure of whether he would be able to perform again in Cyprus. He certainly didn’t feel fresh, but the form carried and he got the better of those whose seasons have only just begun.
“Actually today I don’t feel so good, but I tried to ride behind some good riders who can make the gaps and then I tried to attack. Before the long uphill to the finish Skarnitzl attacked and the group spread out, but then on the last 200m I attacked to take the win but it was very tough racing with these strong guys.”
Cink was rewarded for his early pace setting with a second place just two seconds behind Wawak.
A further second behind in fourth place was Jan Skarnitzl. With his fourth place in the Prologue, this secures him the yellow jersey of race leader for tomorrow.
Luca Schwarzbauer, the leader after yesterday’s Prologue, suffered from with back problems today which hindered his defence of the yellow jersey.
“I had so much back pain today and maybe I went too hard in the beginning when it was really fast. Then I decided I had to go my pace. It was okay but I was expecting a little more. I will make some adjustment to my position and see if that helps tomorrow.”
Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) crossed the line first today but Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) was just behind her and it was very much team effort as they rode clear of the Women’s field to stamp their authority on the race. The pair will race Cape Epic together next month and today was the perfect preparation.
At the finish, van der Breggen was in good spirits: “Only on the first climb Annika was a little in front of me but the gap was small so she could see me. And then we did the downhill together and after that it was quite flat so we had some Cape Epic training today! On the first road section we already had a high pace but there were still some girls hanging in. This is a tough stage with the first hour just climbing – it’s just riding as hard as you can! I was really cold but after the downhill we were working hard on the flat and I was quite okay again!”
The Ghost Factory Racing duo of Sina Frei and Lisa Pasteiner also benefitted from team work today as they crossed the line in third and fourth respectively. The youngsters managed their efforts and strengths well, and despite the harsh conditions they were still smiling at the finish line, both happy with their form and the strong result.
Frei explained, “It was really cool that we were together and could help each other especially on the flats. In the end there was the uphill and I was a little further ahead but really we were very similar today. It was really cool to have each other and not be racing alone. It was really cold, there was even some hail on the top - it was quite weird! On the downhill I couldn’t feel my fingers!”
The yellow jersey wearer, Linda Indergand (Superior XC Team), finished seventh. The long opening climb has never suited Indergand, but she made up time and places on the descent that followed.
“I had some cramps in the middle part of the race but after that it was a nice ride together with Anne [Terpstra] and Isla [Short].”
With her second place in the Prologue yesterday and second place today, van der Breggen takes over the lead of the Afxentia stage race.