No one would have expected a stage finish like this: Swiss racers Thomas Stoll and Konny Looser, who were dropped on the last climb to Rifugio Averau, secured their first win at the 2013 TransAlp on stage 4 from St. Vigil to Alleghe.
The BiXS-Wheeler-iXS Pro Team, who is the fourth duo to clinch a stage at this year's mountain bike race across the Alps, capitalized on a fatal riding mistake by their main competitors on the 74km leg from South Tyrol to the Veneto region. They crossed the line as stage winners in a time of 3:29:10.
Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Team Bulls 1) had been in the lead for quite a long time, but they were caught by Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess (Centurion-Vaude 1) as well as Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergon Racing) at the peak of Rifugio Averau. Then the top three teams missed a trail on the descent to Caprile.
Instead of taking a right turn, the group raced straight ahead noticing that they took the wrong way when they arrived on the pass below. In the end, Team Bulls 1 and 2, together with Specialized Racing, came in 90 seconds behind of second ranked Hannes Genze and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion-Vaude 2). Topeak Ergon Racing as well as Centurion-Vaude 1 followed some 30 seconds later.
"We didn't see the signs. As a result we had to pedal around 200 to 300 metres in elevation gain more, which costed a lot of time. However, we were still quite lucky as the the top three of the overall ranking were all affected and we thus didn't lost too much of our advantage. We got away with a black eye," said German Marathon Champion Kaufmann, who will lead the field tomorrow with Kaess, again bearing the yellow leaders' jerseys.
But although the gaps almost stayed the same within the top-three, today's winners were able to reduce their disadvantage a lot. The fourth ranked team of the standings is now only 5:04 behind Kaufmann and Kaess, who are some 20 seconds in front of Topeak Ergon Racing with Team Bulls 1 being 1:10 behind.
"It was a brutal stage, but we never gave up. We were hoping to close the gap on the last descent, despite a flat tyre. But then we were in the lead all of the sudden which was beyond belief," said Looser.
"We saw all signs. Considering that we took a detour two days ago and lost some time, too, it's obvious that things like this can happen. Sometimes you are the lucky person, sometimes you have a bad break. We will take it day by day and will find out where this leads us to in Riva," said the 2011 TransAlp champion.
Borghild Loevset and Sally Bigham are still the team to beat on the women's side of things. Topeak Ergon Racing once again dominated its category finishing stage four in 4:15:30.
Cornelia Hug and Andrea Faessler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott took second (4:21:31) while Katrin Schwing and Lisa Pleyer (Cancer Rehab St. Veit) came in in third position (4:31:42).
In the mixed category, Kristin Aamodt and Daniel Jungof Mountain Heroes, who raced in the orange jerseys for the first time today, were able to extend their lead by clinching the stage to Alleghe in 4:07:53.
The leading mixed was thus some 14 minutes faster than second ranked Annette Griner and Peter Reiche of black tusk Racing by toMotion (4:21:25). Americans Crystal Anthony and David Dornaus of Team Squirrel rounded out the podium in third (4:21:56).
Other than the men's teams, the top duos in the master category didn't have any problems finding the right way to Alleghe. Like the last couple of days, Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts (Rocky Mountain/Centurion) were the first to cross the finish line (3:43:18).
Johann Grasegger and Andreas Laner of Jeep Scott followed in second (3:48:06) and Claudio Segata and Piergiorgio Dellagiacoma (Team Tecno MTB) finished in third position (4:01:30).
In the category for the teams with a combined age of more than 100 years, it was once again Walter Platzgummer and Gilberto Perini taking the top spot of the podium in 3:58:23.
Baerti Bucher and Doug Brown of Bixs nine-twelve-sixtyone followed in second position (4:09:01) while Felix Weese and Georg Niggl of Craft and Friends celebrated their first time on the podium finishing in third (4:28:49).
Tomorrow's fifth stage of the 2013 TransAlp will lead over 73km from Alleghe to San Martino di Castrozza.
For full results, visit http://services.datasport.com/2013/mtb/Transalp/stage4/RANG025.HTM.