You never know who might show up for an amateur gran fondo, especially with no professional races since February…

Last weekend, Russian Ilnur Zakarin riding for UCI ProTour team CCC only needed 1:35:07 to climb from sea level up 7125 feet to the top of Olympus Peak and the top step of the podium at the 3rd edition of Cyprus 0-2000 Gran Fondo.

Almost 200 riders participated in the grueling race which restarted the 2020 European gran fondo season, but it was the 30-year-old Russian climbing specialist who bested all, claimed victory and set a new course record.

Amateur riders from all across the island of Cyprus were thrilled to line up with Zakarin at the start. He is one of the top cyclists in the world having finished in the top ten at all three Grand Tours, including third place at the Vuelta a España in 2017, a stage win at the 2016 Tour de France stage and two Giro d’Italia stage wins (2019, 2015).

Finishing just behind Zakarin was Cypriot National Champion Andreas Miltiadis who rode a very, very impressive 1:36:22, followed by Alexandros Agrotis at 1:47:11.  Last year’s champion Armando Archimandrites finished 9 minutes faster this year, but could not match the climbing pace of Zakarin and ended up 6th at 1:52:39.

Winning the women’s race, Antri Christoforou crossed under the finish banner in 1:57:39, followed by Russian Valentina Zapatrina and Stavri Pericleous.

Afterwards, Zacharin commented about the race on social media:

It’s my first experience with local races in Cyprus and today’s 0-2000 mountain race was just beautiful. Excellent organisation, a lot of marshals and security people, water and bananas everywhere, fans and great weather. I really enjoyed it. Huge respect to Andreas Miltiadis @andreasmiltiadis Cypriot National Champion, it was quite a race, thanks for the battle. And moreover it was the first real race for my kids as spectators.”

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