Team Topeak Ergon's Alban Lakata started out the Trans Germany on a positive note, by outsprinting Andreas Kugler (Multivan Merida) for a stage win and the overall lead, but his race has been filled with misfortune ever since.
Lakata's luck ran out on the second stage when a mechanical cost him a lot of time. Thanks to teammate Robert Mennen, Lakata still reached the finish line in Bischofsheim, but he slid to fourth place in the GC.
On the third stage, Lakata suffered another problem with his equipment, but he pulled off a second place for the stage. Again, Mennen was his hero of the day. The rider dropped back to help the Austrian National Marathon Champion after he heard of his misfortune. Mennen later withdrew from the race and will focus instead on the German Bundesliga race this weekend.
Stage four brought still more bad luck for Lakata. After two flats en route, he was almost speechless at the finish line as he wondered what was happening to him."Sometimes it is like that. No matter what you do, these things happen," said Lakata. "The annoying thing is that my form is there." He was down to 17 minutes in eighth place behind the leader, Thomas Dietsch.
However, that wasn't good enough for Lakata. "For me now, my chances of winning are low. The time difference is just too large for me to play a deciding role on the podium," said Lakata before deciding to abandon.
"Normally it isn't what you do," said Dirk Juckwer, Topeak Ergon Manager. "A stage race is an experience in itself, and you should finish. However, given the circumstances, and the Austrian National Marathon Championships on Saturday, it makes sense for Lakata to be able to defend his jersey."
Topeak Ergon is having much better luck in the women's race. British National Marathon Champion Sally Bigham has been riding a terrific race and climbing the GC daily. After stage five on Thursday, she was sitting in second place behind Esther Süss (Wheeler iXs Pro Team).
Just two more stages remain in the Trans Germany, which will finish on Saturday.