Due to an extreme parforce run Alban Lakata (AUT) and Robert Mennen (GER) their third successive victory on the fourth stage of the 2012 Craft Bike Transalp. Team Topeak Ergon Racing mastered the shortest distance of the eight-day event with its 52.66 and 1,888 meters in elevation from Nauders, Austria, to Scuol, Switzerland, in 2:15:17.2 hours.
According to this, the 2010 Marathon World Champion and the German Marathon Championships runner-up reduced the gap to the overall leaders of Centurion-Vaude/BiXS iXS by 1:40 min to 3:15 min.
Markus Kaufmann (GER) and Thomas Stoll (SUI) defended their yellow jerseys by coming in third on “Plaz” in the lower town (2:16:57.5), just one minute behind of defending champions and today’s second ranked athletes of Team Stöckli (2:15:57.5), Urs Huber and Konny Looser.
After almost 300 km of the 15th ever Transalp and the very close race for the title, also the second half promises some enthralling mountain biking at its best.
Especially after the dominating racers of the last three days made up a lot of time on the shortest stage; a fact, from which Alban Lakata took heart from:
“Making up that much time on this stage is not that bad. We had very strong legs again. At the moment, everything is quite perfect. If this streak holds on, we might be able to take over the lead.”
Second mountain brings decision
After the Austrian and his German comrade-in-arms had been dictated the tempo in the climb to Bergkastelalm, both sought refuge in flight at the second ascent to Reschner Alm underling that they really have the strongest legs in the field of the almost 500 teams of two remaining in the race.
“We noticed that the leaders had some problems so we gave it a try”, explained Mennen. “We knew that our real advantage would be the last quarter of the leg with its continuously increasing meters in elevation.”
Being forced to fight back, Kaufmann and Stoll tried their best but were set back by some technical problems the German Marathon Champion had to face.
“The chain flew off several times so I had to stop quite often. I guess this did cost some additional and very precious time” said Kaufmann.
Drama in senior master category / BiXS Suisse new leaders
Just like Kaufmann also another category leader had to handle some difficulties, however with a way bitter end.
When Silvano Janes broke his crank, the Italian racer and his fellow countryman Walter Platzgummer decided to call an unwanted halt before its too late and drop out of the stage race.
While they didn’t accept their fate, BiXS Suisse riders Renato Burch and Bärti Bucher took advantage of the so far dominating senior master duo’s early Transalp end by winning their first stage (2:42:21.5) thus also taking over the lead in the classifier for the teams with a total age of 100+.
Georg Niggl (GER) and Walter Perkmann (ITA) of CRAFT & Friends 7 took the second spot (2:52:10.8) while Thomas Herrmann (GER) and Hartmann Stifter (ITA) of Team Sigma rounded out the podium as third (2:55:40.1).
Team Gisler conquers mixed leadWhile Kathrin Neumann (GER) and Daniel Jung (ITA) of Mountain Heroes celebrated their first 2012 Transalp stage triumph in 2:42:58.9 hours, Antonia Wipfli (SUI) and Patrick Jauch (SUI) were able to take over the lead in the mixed classifier in their home country.
By coming in as today’s second fastest team (2:44:02.9) and thus with a lead of more than 2:30 minutes on so far leading Katharina Alberti (GER) and Matthias Gärtner (SUI) of Black Tusk Racing by toMotion, Team Gisler entered the top spot of the mixed table.
Landtwing and Bigham again fastest women
Groundhog Day? Well, Milena Landtwing (SUI) and Sally Bigham (GBR) of Centurion-Vaude/Topeak Ergon could live with it.
Also on day four, the two women category leaders were unbeatable winning the stage to Scuol in 2:48:05.4 hours.
Catherine Williamson (GBR) and Louise Stopforth (RSA) of Bizhub-fcf took the second rank again (3:06:25.4). Andrea Kuster (SUI) and Angelika Niklaus (SUI) of Metz-Kraftwerk finished third (3:19:24.9).
Team Adamelloski simply a powerful team in blue
As expected, Massimo De Bertolis (ITA) and Marzio Deho (ITA) of Team Adamelloski were the first master duo to reach Scuol today. The classifier leaders earned their fourth consecutive stage win in 2:19:45.9 hours.
13 minutes later, Viktor Paris (ITA) and Thomas Piazza (ITA) of Sunshineracers Nals rolled in as second (2:32:05.3) coming out first of the finish sprint with Andreas Laner (ITA) and Johann Grasegger (GER) of Team Scott (3:57:15.8).
Tomorrow, the fifth stage of the Craft Bike Transalp leads over 69.56 km and 2,531 meters in elevation from Scuol, Switzerland, to Livigno, Italy.