With 10 days to go until the start of the 17th annual TransAlp, the starting line up is coming into focus. There are at least five teams capable of claiming the overall win including defending champions Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann of Germany.
However, each of the last five editions produced a different set of winners. This year's race will feature another 587km from Oberammergau to Riva del Garda from July 20 to July 26.
"If you have won the TransAlp once, you want to win it again," said Kaufmann.
That's a sentiment Alban Lakata could agree with. The 2014 marathon Worlds silver medallist, who won the TransAlp in 2012 with Robert Mennen, will give it another shot, this time together with his Czech Topeak Ergon Team member Kristian Hynek.
"We obviously want to win! But it won't be easy," said Lakata. "On the one hand, you have to come through the race week without any problems. On the other hand, there are very strong competitors lining up again."
Team Bulls is sending the experienced duo of Karl Platt and Urs Huber (SUI) while Thomas Dietsch will give it a shot alongside Stefan Sahm. Dietsch is the only one of the foursome who hasn't won the TransAlp yet.
In contrast, Konny Looser and Lukas Buchli each have one win to their name, but both were done with other partners. This year, the Swiss duo will race as the Wheeler-BiXS-iXS team.
Although Daniele Mensi and Franz Hofer do have any any stage race experience yet, the two Italians could play a strong role in the battle for the title as both are part of their national team.
Other top-10 potential teams include Daniel Geismayr and Hannes Genze as well as Rupert Palnberger and Frank Demuth of Centurion-Vaude, Uwe Hardter and Andreas Kleiber of Texpa-Simplon, Matthias and Christian Baldauf of toMotion Racing by black tusk plus Dutch racers Bram Rood and Stefan Vreugdenhil of KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga.
The favourites for women's title come from Switzerland. Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fässler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott, who placed second in 2013, are the main favorites if defending champion Sally Bigham of Topeak Ergon doesn't find a strong partner to attend the event.