The 14th CRAFT BIKE TRANSALP powered by NISSAN kicked off with a fulminant sprint to decide the stage win. In the end, after 95.55 kilometers and 2,366 meters in elevation from Mittenwald (GER) to Weerberg (AUT), the victory went to Switzerland’s Urs Huber and Konny Looser who nailed the winning time of 3:34:51.4 hours. Thus, Team Stöckli was only 1.3 seconds ahead of runner-up Team Bulls 1 (3:34:52.7) with serial winner Karl Platt (GER) and his French team mate Thomas Dietsch. Another 0.5 second behind were Italian riders Massimo de Bertolis and Johann Pallhuber of Srmax Autopolar Cannondale (3:34:53.2) rounding out the podium as third.
According to the successful sprint, a dream came true for the youngest team in the circle of podium candidates; especially for Huber, who secured the Yellow Leaderjersey at his first ever Transalp appearance right away. “Our goal was to bring home one stage win. It’s incredible that we did it at the first day already,” the 25-years-old farmer, who had reached the Tyrolean mountain village as first Transalp participant, said.
But despite all reasonable good moods, Huber was realistic enough to dampen the euphoria. “There is still a whole week more to come. I would say it’s still a tie of 0:0.”
The mountain bike pro from Jonen thus drew attention to the final result. Besides the top-3 having finished all within only two seconds, also the fourth and fifth ranked teams Multivan Merida Biking with Hannes Genze (GER) and Andreas Kugler (SUI) as well as Centurion-Vaude consisting of German racers Markus Kaufmann and Rupert Palmberger are also within reach of the top spot being only 3.2 and 8.1 seconds behind.
Today’s race is promising for the days to come
None of the podium candidates had been able to break away over the course of day one. From start to finish and across the two peaks Hochalmsattel and Plumsjoch, the best ten riders had been – except of a few minor breaks – together, eyeballing and testing each other.
Only the final ascent up to Weerberg brought a tight upping of the tempo without breaking the group.
According to this, not only Huber and Looser, who will race in Yellow tomorrow, expect an ongoing close battle for the overall lead. Also Mr. Transalp Karl Platt, who crossed the finish line in second position, resembles it.
“All of the teams in front are competing on a very high level. And I bet that no one had laid it on the line already. It’s going to be very tough and exciting. So far, there is no top favorite,” the eight-time Transalp champion said. However, Platt is still hoping for a form increase of his new team partner.
“I felt strong today and could have gone for more. But Thomas (Dietsch) is still suffering from jetlag. He just came over from the BC Bike race in Canada. So, he for sure will get better”, so Platt’s hidden declaration of war.
Binder and Troesch take over Pink Leaderjerseys
On the women’s side, Natascha Binder and Danièle Troesch were the ones going for the big shot in 4:29:05.0 hours. Although the German-French pairing had been among the inner circle of top favorites, the day didn’t seem to bring a happy end for team Felt Ötztal X-Bionic/Rotwild.
Both racers had been more than 1.5 minutes behind of long-time leading Martina Miessgang (AUT) and Katrin Neumann (GER). But the Mountain Heroes lost all of their lead when they got delayed by a bigger group in the downhill from Plumsjoch with no chance to pass. Troesch and Binder took advantage and closed the lines again.
But in the end, it was a physical problem about ten kilometers prior to the finish line which dealt new cards. “I suddenly got leg cramps and don’t know why,” said Neumann. “That’s for sure a pain in the arse.”
However, the rider from Bavaria got some support from her Austrian team mate. “That’s life, shit happens. We’ll see what the next week will bring,” Miessgang comforted Neumann thus already keen to make up ground after the team came in as second with a mere three minutes delay (4:32:10.4). Manuela Jenny and Susanne Tanner (both SUI) of Velorado Racing placed third (4:39:17.4).
Technical defect brings victory in the Master category
Also in the category for the teams with a total age of more than 80 years, victory was decided by misfortune of one team. In Weerberg, Heinz Zörweg and Silvio Wieltschnig of Factory Cube were the ones shining from the top spot of the master podium (3:44:54.9).
According to this, the Austrian duo held the upper hand over their estimated main rivals from Germany, Udo Bölts and Andreas Strobel of Centurion-Vaude, who finished third (3:53:58.8) behind of today’s runner ups from South Tyrol Andreas Laner and Armin Auchentaller of team Moserwirt Passeier (3:49:55.5).
“I lost control of my saddle in the first climb and couldn’t solve it over the course of the race. I had to stop a few times,” title defender Silvio Wieltschnig said, who – lucky him – benefitted from the misfortune of his last year’s team mate Udo Bölts. The former cycling pro had a flat tire. “That threw both of them way back.”
However, the 38-years-old keeps on soft-pedaling – despite the fact of a lead of more than five minutes. “It was super tough today. Due to the problems with my saddle, I had to ride out of saddle which cost a lot of energy.”
Title defender in mixed category again in Orange
With her new Craft – Rocky Mountain mixed partner Carsten Bresser (GER), Finland’s mountain bike ace Pia Sundstedt lived up to all expectations in the mixed category.
The German-Finnish pairing mastered the total distance from Mittenwald to Weerberg in 3:51:52.2 hours thus relegating Milena Landtwing (SUI) and Martin Kiechle (GER) of Centurion-Vaude (3:56:17.4) as well as Germany’s Kristina Weber and Daniel Jung of Mountain Heroes (4:12:25.0) to the second and third rank, respectively.
Triumph of top candidates for the senior master title
On side of the oldest participants, those teams with a cumulated age of more than 100 years, Walter Platzgummer and Silvano Janes from the Italian team Trient-Südtirol met the standard of being the ones to beat in 3:52:14.7 hours.
Austria’s Erich Pross and Erwin Dietrich of Zweirad Janger Simplon placed second (4:00:51.7) while title defender Georg Niggl (GER) and his new Craft And Friends partner Walter Perkmann from South Tyrol secured the third rank (4:08:12.1).
Preview Stage 2: Weerberg (AUT) – Mayrhofen (AUT)
After yesterday’s kick off, the second stage is more or less a panorama tour. Less than 70 kilometers but 2,597 meters in elevation promise once again some stunning mountain views.
No wonder that the high route passing Lafasteralm and Weidener Hütte up to Geiseljoch (2,292m), which offers nice visilibilty, has been an inherent part of the Transalp for many years now.
Thereafter, it’s time for something new: for the first time, the routing travels across the Penken, Mayrhofen’s skiing mountain, in order to reach the Ziller Valley.
Full results are available via Datasport.