Facing a blue bird sky for the first time this week, Alban Lakata (AUT) and Robert Mennen (GER) have build up the pressure on the overall leaders by bringing home their fourth consecutive stage win. Team Topeak Ergon Racing clinched the fifth stage of the 15th Craft Bike Transalp, which led over 69.56 km and 2,531 meters in elevation from Scuol, Switzerland to Livigno in Italy, in 3:11:15.7 hours.
According to this, the Austrian-German pro team reduced the gap to the Yellow Jerseys of Markus Kaufmann (GER) and Thomas Stoll (SUI) by two minutes.
However, the Centurion-Vaude/BiXS iXS Pro Team, which came in third today (3:13:14.3) right behind of today’s runner-ups Urs Huber (SUI) and Konny Looser (SUI) of Team Stöckli (3:12:42.0), has still some 1:16 minutes advantage on their main pursuers.
With the queen’s stage coming up tomorrow, the two leaders are willing to defend their top position. “We have been doing well in the downhills and the technical trail sections but we had to go to our limit in the climbs,” said 2009 Transalp champion Thomas Stoll.
But it’s mainly the climbs like today’s Pass da Costainas (2,251m), Passo del Gallo (2,280m) and Passo Alpisella (2,270) separating the wheat from the chaff at a Transalp stage race – and Topeak Ergon tried to push it there again.
“Right in the first ascent, we upped the tempo. We wanted to keep the pressure high on the leaders,” explained Robert Mennen.
But although the tactic worked out pretty fine, the German Marathon Championships runner-up is keeping it real: “It will be a hard and tight battle until the end. We will give everything every day to finally get those Yellow Jerseys.”
Indeed, their main competitors are willing to defend their lead although Stoll knows that his rivals are currently having the momentum: “From now on, the lead doesn’t count anymore. Now, it’s all about racing. We just have to make sure to make it.”
Mixed category gets re-shuffled due to crashes
“Just making it” is a maxim every team tries to meet but not every one achieves this goal. Today, two top mixed duos experienced it the hard way.
First team on the ground was team Mountain Heroes with Katrin Neumann (GER) and Daniel Jung (ITA). The Bavarian racer didn’t see a stone in her way and went down hard. Although the 2011 women category Transalp winner tried it a few times, the 30-years-old had to give up. It was equal to the 2012 Transalp end for yesterday’s mixed winner.
Former mixed team leaders Katharina Alberti (GER) and Matthias Gärtner (GER) of Black Tusk Racing by toMotion were the second mountain bikers who did crash and thus lost contact to the other teams.
In the end, both had to settle with the ninth rank (4:27:40.1) coming in 34 minutes later than the winning mix thus also losing the runner-up position in the ranking.
“We did quite well and had a good rhythm,” recapped Matthias Gärtner. “But then someone pushed me to the side and I snagged to Katharina’s bike.” Both crashed, got hurt and had to handle a pretty badly bent front wheel at Alberti’s bike.
However, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Riding the first time in the Orange Leader Jerseys, Antonia Wipfli (SUI) and Patrick Jauch (SUI) of Team Gisler claimed their second consecutive stage win in 3:53:26.7 hours.
Lorenza Menapace (ITA) and Claudio Segata (ITA) of Press Riva del Garda finished third (3:59:25.0) and thus took over the second position in the mixed classifier.
Team Adamelloski with five-peat
Also on day five, the two master category leaders Massimo De Bertolis (ITA) and Marzio Deho (ITA) didn’t seem to be tired at all. Like a clockwork, the two men in the Blue Jerseys reel the kilometers off thus also mixing it in the elite class. Team Adamelloski’s winning time of 3:13:02.7 hours was the third fastest overall.
Asked if they think they could be able to bring home a stage win, former Marathon World Champion De Bertolis said: “Topeak Ergon is a class of its own. But you never know. At the moment, everybody is talking about tomorrow’s queen’s stage but no one thinks of the stage thereafter. We might have a chance if everybody has sore legs then.”
Andreas Laner (ITA) and Johann Grasegger (GER) of Team Scott (3:30:21.5) finished in second position while Heinz Sommer (GER) and Peter Brommler (GER) of Schwarzwälder Bayerische Versuchung celebrated their first podium result as third (3:43:59.3).
Landtwing/Bigham keep on dominating
In the women category, Milena Landtwing (SUI) and Sally Bigham (GBR) of Centurion-Vaude/Topeak Ergon still have to pedal without real competitors. The two race ladies tied up stage win #5 in the time of 3:52:14.8 hours.
The second rank went to Catherine Williamson (GBR) and Louise Stopforth (RSA) of Bizhub-fcf (4:28:35.8), rank three to Andrea Kuster (SUI) and Angelika Niklaus (SUI) of Metz-Kraftwerk (4:32:59.1).
BiXS Suisse with second win in senior master category
Bearing the Green Senior Master Leader Jerseys for the first time, Renato Burch (SUI) and Bärti Bucher (SUI) claimed a back-to-back win in 3:49:09.7 hours today.
Georg Niggl (GER) and Walter Perkmann (ITA) of CRAFT & Friends 7 (4:06:38.5) as well as Thomas Herrmann (GER) and Hartmann Stifter (ITA) of Team Sigma (4:10:40.1) rounded out the podium as second and third.
Tomorrow brings the sixth and thus the queen’s stage of the Craft bike Transalp, which leads over 106.29 km and 3,451 meters in elevation from Livigno, Italy, to Ponte di Legno, Italy.