The Craft Bike Transalp is known for being a tough race, 8 stages of racing through the Alps, a total distance of 619.41km with some 21,091hm and a maximum height of 2737m. Thrown into this is the fact it is a teams race, two riders constitute a team and for the team to finish both riders are required to ride within 2 minutes of each other and finish together. Not to mention the camp environment (if hotels are beyond your budget) which is an intensive housing situation for many of the riders, and the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacterial infections. So it is understandable that there is a high rate of team attrition – but many participants either underestimate the stress such racing takes on your body or forget that it is an eight day race, leaving them grossly underprepared.
We have just completed stage 7 and I have checked the attrition rate so far:
- On completion of the first stage the following were the number of teams ranked in each category: men 202 teams, women 17 teams, mixed 69 teams, masters men 189 teams, senior masters men 42 teams (this is the number of teams that finished stage 1)
- On completion of yesterdays ‘queen’ stage the following were the numbers of teams ranked in each category: men 174 teams, women 13 teams, mixed 59 teams, masters men 159 teams and senior masters men 38 teams (this is the number of teams they finished stage 7)
So the secret to a successful stage race seems to be safety, hygiene and consistency. In our category (mixed) we have seen several teams withdraw due to injury or gastrointestinal upset and I suspect the same for many of the other categories. It is definitely beneficial to use electrolyte and energy products that you are familiar with, ensure you take extra care with hygiene (personal hygiene includes clean kit, clean hands and clean bottles), do not race outside yourself (regardless of what your partner may think). The ‘safety first’ motto is very important as I have seen many mixed teams DNF as a result of the female rider crashing with fatigue, I vow never to be one of these.
That said, Subaru-MarathonMTB.com mixed team of Mike Blewitt and myself continue to be one of the ranked mixed teams. Today we finished 5th on stage and are sitting comfortably in 6th position in the mixed category with one final stage remaining to Riva Del Garda. This final stage is never to be underestimated as it is a 75km stage with 1778hm, the good news is we are currently at Madonna di Campiglio (1500m) and Riva Del Garda is at 0-100m so we have 3235hm descending to look forward to.
At the pointy end of the race the Womens Centrion Vaude/Topeak Ergon Team continue to dominate with a comfortable lead over Team Bizhub-fcf going into the final stage. The Mixed team leaders (Team Gisler) suffered some mechanical issues today leaving them chasing Team Press Riva Del Garda who took the stage with a 6 minute gap. In the mens, the Stockli Pro team finished 1-2 minutes ahead of Topeak Ergon Racing.
Full results on datasport.ch