Maybe it was the number 13 on my race number (113), maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the early morning race start (9:30am) - I did not have a good last Cyprus Sunshine Cup race. The race took place around the ruins of Amathous, on a modified course from last year. It's great setting, right by the sea, but even that didn't make a difference.
I had pre-ridden the course over the few days leading up to the race but I found it hard to get friends with it: it was a very bumpy, rocky course with some steep power sapping climbs, thank god I ride a full sus. Almost all of it was single-track, with few overtaking opportunities. I just couldn't get into a flow.
I started off feeling well and held on to the lead group through the fast start loop and through most of the first lap. It was quite hot and I had difficulty finding a place to drink because the track required both hands on the handlebar for most of it. From the second lap on I felt as if I was going to get sick. On the climbs then I started feeling fainty and cold all of a sudden - the same way I have felt in the World Cup in South Africa last year. I went into survival mode from lap 2 out of the 5 laps. I think this was the closest I was to quitting a race because I felt so sick, but the encouragement of my friend Alan around the course and the possibility of an overall podium place kept me going. As I went slower and slower with each lap I was caught by more racers and I could do nothing but let them go. I was glad to be finished after almost 2hours of riding.
In the end I finished in 13th position (my start number position....) - not a great result, but better than no result. I have no idea what went wrong, I just felt sick and could barely finish the race. My lap times also show that something wasn't right, with a 4min deterioration from 21.07min in the first lap to 25.07min in the last lap, 2min slower than my 2nd last lap. Usually my lap times are fairly consistent with my last lap being the 2nd fastest after the first lap!
With this result I thought I had lost my chances to be on the overall podium, but I just made it onto 5th overall. It was very close though: one place higher in my last race and I would have been 4th overall, one place lower and I would have been 6th.
Overall Cyprus Sunshine Cup women's podium: Sue Clarke (GBR), Janka Stevkova (SVK), Annika Langvad (DEN), Alexandra Engen (SWE), Melanie Spath (GER) (l-r)
Full results on cyclingnews.com
Freecaster.tv is showing a replay of the live-broadcast of the men's event and the awards ceremony afterwards - you can see me running to the podium at around 1h 11min into the video :).