A budding domestic classic, the "Criterium Olympic Race Of Peace" takes place in the area surrounding Olympia, the birthplace and namesake of both the modern and ancient Olympic Games.
The racers had the chance to live the life of an ancient champion as they were hosted for all three days at the Olympic Academy - an opportunity that race organisers Sakis Mantas and Panos Exarchopoulos will also offer to any racer who finds his way here next year.
Having grown from a one-day lung-buster, the race had three stages in this, its 7th edition: a first-for-Greece night-time criterium in the the city of Pyrgos, a pancake-flat TT in the Port of Katakolo, and the queen stage; a 130 km road race up to the ancient temple of Apollo Epicurious at 1150 meters.
The queen stage's route is something special. After 90km of epic, rolling terrain with a detour through the ancient Olympic Stadium, the road pitched up for nearly 40km with some welcome but brief downhills. The difficult final ascent to the temple covers almost 10km and features pitches of 15%, leaving almost no time to enjoy the rich history of the UNESCO protected site before descending slightly to the finish line in the quaint town of Andritsaina.
On the racing side of things, days one and two belonged to former Greek Champ Georgios Bouglas. Racing for his domestic club Kronos, he won both races in convincing fashion and with an epic standing wheelie. His trade team, the Chinese "Continental Team of Gansu Bank", must be happy.
The final day's road race, on the other hand, was dominated by AEK Athen's flyweight, Mihalis Mavrikakis. Mihalis, a rare climbing talent, rode away from even his shadow up the finishing mountain to win with enough time to savour the moment. With the nationals looming, this was a great chance for the domestic peloton to stretch its legs before the fight for the jersey commences in 2 weeks in no less a location than Sparta.
All images: ©Petros Gkotsis
Text: ©Petros Gkotsis & Neofytos Sakellaridis-Mangouras
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