The 24th edition of the Afxentia Stage Race – which forms part of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2019 - can look forward to two cycling stars. Marathon World Champion, Annika Langvad, and Road World Champion, Anna van der Breggen, will prepare for the Cape Epic on the sunny Mediterranean island. In South Africa they will team up for a very powerful duo.
Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) is one of the outstanding figures in mountain bike sport. She has been World Marathon Champion five times, Cross-Country World Champion in 2016 and almost again last year when she was narrowly beaten into the silver medal position in Lenzerheide. She has won six World Cups and, last year, five out of six of the new World Cup Short Track competition.
The Dane is 34 years old and has successfully prepared several times in Cyprus for the World’s most famous mountain bike stage race, South Africa’s Cape Epic. Langvad has won the event four times, and has been the winner at our very own Afxentia stage race once, in 2015. For the first time she now teams up with roald world champion Anna van der Breggen.
"The Cape Epic is always a huge highlight of my season. I am very honoured to take on the race with Anna – getting to partner up with an Olympic and Road Champion is quite unique. Riding with Anna will make it feel just as adventurous as riding the Cape Epic for the first time again… I know we will make a strong team out there”, Annika Langvad told the Cape Epic organizers.
Team mates on mountain bike and on road cycling
As of this season, Langvad is also a member of the professional road team Boels-Dolmans, who also ride Specialized bikes. In a team full of big hitters, it is Anna van der Breggen who shines brightest. The Dutchwoman won the 2016 Olympic Road Race and last year in Innsbruck, Austria, added Road World Champion to her palmares.
“I am looking forward to a big adventure and to do something I never did before. I cannot wait to participate in one of the toughest mountain biking challenges in the world” the Dutch star is quoted in a Absa Cape Epic press release.
And, of course, Cyprus is a perfect place to prepare this adventure. As a lot of other world class riders year by year are using it. The Specialized duo will be on the island already one week before the Afxentia stage race kicks off on 21st of February.
Last year, Anna van der Breggen made an impressive premiere in mountain biking, winning the Afxentia stage race. The four days in Lefkara, Lythrodontas and the Macheras Mountains were apparently also a perfect preparation for the road season, as a week later van der Breggen won the famous Strade Bianchi, a UCI Women’s World Tour race.
That convinced team manager Danny Stam that mountain biking is a good change for the 28-year-old, and van der Breggen is now expanding her off-road program.
And who better then to partner with? Annika Langvad, of course! In Cyprus they will still be opponents and certainly both favoured for the victory. Three weeks later, however, they will form a dynamic duo, and they will surely be considered among the favourites again.
More on the Cyprus Sunshine Cup race on www.activatecyprus.com/en/events/sunshinecup-2019
Dates of Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2019
February 21 to 24 Afxentia Stage Race (SHC)
March 3 Amathous (C1)