Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Team Bulls) clinched the opening stage of the 16th annual TransAlp. This season's newly formed team finished off their work day from Mittenwald to Mayrhofen after 111km in 3:34:49.
The second spot went to Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess (Centurion-Vaude), who came out first in a sprint for second place including three teams - despite the fact that both Kaufmann and Kaess had lost contact in the middle section of the course due to a flat on Kaufman's bike. Swiss racers Thomas Stoll and Konny Looser (BiXS-Wheeler-iXS Pro Team) rounded out the podium in third, thus edging of defending Transalp champions Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen in fourth.
2013 marathon world champion Christoph Sauser, together with Specialized Racing team colleague Max Knox, came in fifth (3:40:07), some 5:17 behind.
Platt and Huber, who have a total of eight TransAlp titles under their belts with Platt having earned seven of them, broke away in the first climb to Hochalmsattel and were able to extend their lead in the following descent to 2:30. The lead then - in contrary to expectations - became bigger across the Plumsjoch climb and the last 35km long cycle path through the Ziller valley into the finish.
It was especially surprising because an eight-member chasing group pushed it to the limits.
"It was tough," said Platt, who had won the 2005 opener on the same route, too, after his career's 36th TransAlp stage win. "It's amazing to have so many wins. I love this race. But I was close to the edge at the end. Urs (Huber) was definitely stronger. 3:36 is OK but nothing to feel easy about."
The other top teams had invested a lot, although they weren't able to close the gap. German Champion Kaufmann said, "We went flat out and were hoping to catch up. I don't know what they (Platt/Huber) did."
Sally Bigham and Borghild Loevset earned the pink leaders' jerseys in the women's category due to an impressive performance and finish in 4:13:57. They secured a lead of some seven minutes on their pursuers.
Switzerland's Cornelia Hug and Andrea Faessler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott rolled in the finish after 4:20:53 in second. Third place went to Cancer Rehab St. Veit (4:22:39) consisting of Lisa Pleyer and Katrin Schwing.
Like 2005, when Platt claimed victory on the opening stage from Mittenwald to Mayrhofen, his then team mate Carsten Bresser also repeated the win eight years later; this time together with former cycling pro Udo Boelts for Rocky Mountain/Centurion in the category for the teams with a combined age of more than 80 years in 3:50:52. However, the eighth ranked athlete of the 2000 Olympics had run out of breath today.
"It seems that Karl (Platt) and I do like this stage. But I have to admit that I was happy enough having a former pro cyclist at my side. Udo (Boelts) did the most work on the 35km flat at the end of the stage. Otherwise, I guess I wouldn't have finished yet," said Bresser.
3:30 minutes behind of the successful master duo were Johann Grasegger and Andreas Laner of Jeep Scott taking second with Norwegians Tom Larsen and Thomas Knutsen of Team Hardrocx coming in third.
The best grand master team including Walter Platzgummer and Gilberto Perini made it to the finish before the third masters team. Baerti Bucher and Doug Brown of Bixs nine-twelve-sixtyone as well as US-Americans Kevin Hines and Alex Petro of Corner Cyclerounded out the podium as second and third.
Germany's Bettina Uhlig and Mathias Nothegger of Team www.1place.co / Wheeler iXS won their first TransAlp stage in 4:07:53 and will thus wear the orange leaders' jerseys on the second stage leading from Mayrhofen to Brixen tomorrow.
Annette Griner and Peter Reiche of black tusk Racing by toMotion as well as Kristin Aamodt and Daniel Jung of Mountain Heroes followed as second and third ranked mixed teams.
For full results, visit http://services.datasport.com/2013/mtb/Transalp/stage1/.