Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Team Bulls 1) clinched the seventh and penultimate stage of the 2013 TransAlp in a time of 4:36:07. It was this year's longest stage, with 119km and 3,005 metres in elevation gain from Crespano del Grappa to Rovereto. It was the second stage win for the third ranked team in the overall standings, and it took place "by accident".
A misinterpretation of the stage profile pinned to their handlebars forced the eventual stage winners to launch their attack earlier than planned.
"The profile is so small. I thought we were on the last climb, but actually were in the one before. We went for it but quickly noticed that another ascent is following. So we kept on going and secured the win - which is quite a nice redemption for the bad performance a few days ago - due to our downhill skills," said seven-time TransAlp winner Karl Platt.
One minute after Team Bulls 1, reigning marathon world champion Christoph Sauser and Max Knox (Specialized Racing) finished in 4:37:06. The third spot went to overall leaders Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess of Centurion-Vaude 1 (4:38:25) who thus were able to defend the yellow jerseys in a very controlled manner.
"That was our goal", said German Marathon Champion Kaufmann in the finish area. "We lost Team Bulls in the technical section but didn't want to risk too much. We just made sure to make it to the finish without any technical defects or crashes." As a result, Kaufmann and Kaess are now, with only 39km from Rovereto to Riva del Garda to go, close to their career's first TransAlp title.
Especially as today's fourth ranked Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergon Racing) lost another 2:24 on the leading team. As a consequence, the runner-ups in the overall standings, of whom the European Champion Lakata was the unlucky person today with two technical problems (flat, blocked chain), are now already nine minutes behind and thus have to shelve their dream of keeping hold to the title.
Sally Bigham and Borghild Loevset (Topeak Ergon Racing) underlined their outstanding role in the women's category impressively. 5:27:56 hours of riding equaled the best time on the female side of things and also stage win #7.
Cornelia Hug and Andrea Faessler (Crazy Velo Shop Scott) as well as Katrin Schwing and Lisa Pleyer (Cancer Rehab St. Veit) rounded out the top-three as second and third team respectively.
Due to stage win #6 (5:33:08) Kristin Aamodt and Daniel Jung (Mountain Heroes) can finally start to dream of their first TransAlp title.
Isabelle Klein and Christian Schmitt (Toproad 1) as well as Kerstin Brachtendorf and Ronald Andraczek (r2-bike.com MTB Racing) came in second and third respectively.
Johann Grasegger and Andreas Laner (Team Jeep Scott) celebrated their first stage win in 5:05:02 hours. However, the overall ranked second team in the class for the teams with a combined age of more than 80 years did capitalize on bad luck of their main rivals.
Carsten Bresser and his Rocky Mountain/Centurion teammate Udo Boelts lost about 10 minutes in the last descent due to a flat tyre (Bresser) and ruined their streak. Former cycling pro Boelts said, "Those things can happen. It was our first flat. Some other teams are suffering even more." In the end, the blue jerseys had to be content with second (5:09:28).
However, both were still lucky enough that the later on winning master team stopped by and helped out. "We left a cartridge and some tools. It's a matter of course to help out," said Johann Grasegger who also illustrated why he and Laner were so far behind at the intermediate times.
"We decided to go our own pace which was the right decision. In the end, we were only able to catch up because we were still strong enough to do so. We were favoured by fortune, true, but that's OK."
Claudio Segata and Piergiorgio Dellagiacoma of Team Tecno MTB took third (5:14:35).
Walter Platzgummer and Gilberto Perini (Naturns Scott-Torbado) also claimed victory on the penultimate TransAlp stage from Crespano del Grappa to Rovereto (5:18:06).
Second and third rank went to Baerti Bucher and Doug Brown (Bixs nine-twelve-sixtyone) as well as Georg Niggland Felix Weese (Craft and Friends).
Tomorrow's shortest, eighth and thus last stage of the TransAlp will cover 39km from Rovereto to Riva del Garda.
For full results, visit services.datasport.com/2013/mtb/Transalp/stage7/.