Cyprus kicked off European UCI Gran Fondo World Championship qualifying at the UCI Gran Fondo Cyprus stage race this past weekend with 16 year-old teenage cycling sensation Bogdan Zabelinskiy (Agios Mnason) defeating ex-pro rider Aidar Zakarin (Inex Team) in a sea-saw battle over three days.

Zabelinksy, winner of Gran Fondo Apollo-Aphrodite last October, stunned the field and soloed to victory on the final stage by two and a half minutes, stealing the overall general classification from Zakarin. The sixteen year-old phenom is the son of Olga Zabelinskaya, a Russian-born Uzbekistani cyclist who holds three Olympic cycling medals and lives permanently in Cyprus.

The 27-year-old Zakarin, brother of Russian professional cyclist Ilnur Zakarin, won Friday’s time trial by 15 seconds, held that gap through Saturday’s 96 kilometre stage and started Sunday’s final 54 kilometre stage in the lead with a 34 second gap over Zabelinsky, who sat in fifth place.

But the Russian could not match the climbing speed of the teenager, whose youthful legs danced on the pedals to ride away from all challengers on a short course with over 1400 metres of vertical ascent. Zabelinsky won the final stage and finished overall in 4:18:13, with Zakarin second on the stage and second overall in 4:20:10. Local 51 year-old bike racing legend Nicola Loda finished third overall in 4:20:22.

Across the various UCI Gran Fondo World Series age/sex categories 66 road race cyclists and 41 time trial riders qualified to attend the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships planned for September in Trento, Italy.

Complete UCI Gran Fondo Cyprus results and list of riders qualifying for the world championships available HERE.

Photos: Gran Fondo Cyprus