Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess clinched the 57km third stage of the 2013 TransAlp from Brixen to St. Vigil and took over the lead in the overall classification.
The reigning German Marathon Champion and his Centurion-Vaude 1 teammate were able to shake off fellow break riders Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen in last climb to Munt da Riina and finish 20 seconds ahead in 2:51:38.
The team who had lead the race so far, Team Bulls 1 racers Karl Platt and Urs Huber, came in in fourth position (2:56:37) behind of Thomas Stoll and Konny Looser of BiXS-Wheeler-iXS (2:56:14) and have, as now the third ranked team in the classification, a gap of 1:42 on the new leaders. Lakata and Mennen sit in second position, 22 seconds behind of Kaufmann and Kaess.
Kaufmann and Kaess had upped the tempo in the first climb of the day to Luesner Scharte (2,371m), the with 18km longest ascent of this year's TransAlp, and successfully broken away with Topeak Ergon Racing. Both teams subsequently extended their lead while other top teams such as Team Bulls 1 and Specialized Racing had to deal with technical problems (flat tyres).
However, the last and very steep climb to Munt da Riina, right after the descent from Wuerzjoch (1,991m), brought the decision when Robert Mennen couldn't keep the fast pace of Centurion-Vaude 1 anymore.
"Alban (Lakata) had to wait for me. We tried to keep the gap as small as possible. Alban had to do all the work. I just kept hold of his back wheel and hoped for the finish to arrive," said Mennen, who is still optimistic. "It's a long way to Riva. We are happy that we could reduce the gap in the overall classifier and will fight every day again and again."
A fact which both new leaders of Centurion-Vaude 1 definitely know about. "It's nice to have the yellow jerseys. We'll see if we can defend them until Riva del Garda. It would be awesome if we could do so," said reigning Kaufmann, who had raced in yellow five days last year.
But Kaufmann and teammate Kaess also have to keep and eye on Team Bulls 1. "Of course we are very disappointed having lost the lead. But there are five more days to come. A lot of things can happen," said Urs Huber, whose teammate Karl Platt had a flat tire.
Just like on the men's side of things, the mixed category saw a leadership change. Kristin Aamodt and Daniel Jung not only celebrated back-to-back stage wins (3:32:23) but also captured the orange leader jerseys.
"We noticed that the others weren't that strong in the first climb and went for it - and this tactic paid off," said Jung.
However, the Mountain Heroes Mix also capitalized on an accident involving leaders Bettina Uhlig and Mathias Nothegger of Team www.1place.com/Wheeler iXS. The German racer crashed badly on the descent from Luesner Scharte but was able to finish the stage despite being in a great deal of pain. With a gap of more than seven minutes, Uhlig and Nothegger crossed the finish line as second mix (3:39:31), but had a lead of only five minutes on Mountain Heroes before entering today's stage.
"Actually, everything was under control. Mountain Heroes were a bit ahead, OK, but that wasn't to much. But then Bettina (Uhlig) crashed and we had to take it easy," said Nothegger, who, right after the finish, didn't know if they would be able to start tomorrow.
Third place in the mixed category went to Annette Griner and Peter Reiche of black tusk Racing by toMotion (3:49:32).
Borghild Loevset and Sally Bigham of Topeak Ergon Racing keep on dominating the women category by securing their third stage win in 3:39:31.
Cornelia Hug and Andrea Faessler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott (3:47:46) as well as Katrin Schwing and Lisa Pleyer of Cancer Rehab St. Veit (3:50:24) rounded out today's podium as second and third.
In the 80+ masters category, Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts remained in the lead. Team Rocky Mountain/Centurion mastered this year's second shortest stage in 3:12:01, thus relegating Johann Grasegger and Andreas Laner of Jeep Scott as well as Thomas Piazza and Viktor Paris of Team Sunshine Racer Nals to second and third respectively
In the 100+ masters category, Walter Platzgummer and Gilberto Periniunderlined their class once again. Team Naturns Scott-Tobardo finished the stage to St. Vigil in 3:18:57.
Baerti Bucher and Doug Brown of Bixs nine-twelve-sixtyone came in second (3:37:54) with Kevin Hines and Alec Petro of Corner Cycle taking third (3:54:28) like the days before.
Tomorrow's fourth stage will lead from St. Vigil over 74km and 2,614 metres in elevation gain to Alleghe.
For full results, visit http://services.datasport.com/2013/mtb/Transalp/stage3/.