Tuesday, March 09, 2010

2010 Cyprus Sunshine Cup Round 2 - UCI S1 Stage Race

Last weekend was the Sunshine Cup Stage race that both Mel and I had been looking forward to. The race was a one lap time trial around the cross country courses loop, then a 41km point to point with a large amount of climbing followed by a long cross country race.

Stage 1 – Time Trial

When Mel and I got up to go to the time trial in the mountains, the weather really did start to turn bad. We were blessed with almost perfect cycling weather for our whole trip except the three days we spent in the mountains racing. When we arrived, the weather was terrible – wet, cold and the course very muddy. Like last year, the course was pretty simple, lots of climbing (300 meters of the 7km course) and 5 very steep, short descents. Warming up was a difficulty, it was very cold and I have found it hard to get motivated for such short, wet races. I rode my lap taking the descents reasonably cautious (I didn't want to have a big crash like last year) but never felt to have good legs as I road the lap. I finished up in a very 'meh' 49th (80 something starters).

After a single lap!

Stage 2 – Point to Point

The point to point is a pretty fun race – the first 40 minutes of riding is boredom city (up and down fireroads) but then we hit the major climb of the day, about an hour of continuos climbing with the last 35 minutes on single track. This of course is followed by a magical 10 minute descent when you drop 600 meters of vertical gain on single track and then a loop of the cross country course back to the start. Like last year, my diesel engine wasn't ready for pushing so hard at the start and it took a while until I really started to get going. Over the climb and descent, I passed about 20-25 riders and finished up in a much more credible 36th position. We had rain before the start of the race and 20-25 minutes at the end of my race but conditions from the previous days of rain meant the course rode a bit slower than last year.

Stage 3 – Cross Country Race

The final stage was the cross country race – like all races over here, it was going to be on the long side of what constitutes a cross country race. On the start line temperatures where cold and it looked like the rain was about to start again (a massive storm woke me, even with ear plugs in, during the night so we knew the course would be water logged). The race started – and as usual at the start of the season, I went backwards for the first while – however, this time my legs actually felt reasonable. I settled into a good rhythm and started passing riders, and then more riders. The rain had started to become heavy at this point and I was getting very cold (despite also wearing a base layer) – I seldom get cold on the bike while racing (well, at least off road) but this was one of those times. As the laps went on, I saw riders pay for their earlier efforts and blow as I rode by – even passing Christoph Soukoup on the final nasty climb back to the start/finish area. This time I finished a weekend best of 26th which placed me 27th overall and claiming some UCI points in the S1 classified race.

A great race, but it was unfortunate that the weather was so bad – of the 19 days Mel and I spent in Cyprus, 16 days had almost perfect cycling weather, these 3 had horrible weather.

Many thanks to Fredrick, Boerje (of Cycle in Cyprus) and Harry for all the assistance at feed zones etc... over the weekend. As privateer racers - Mel and I rely on folks like you - many many thanks!

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