Karl Platt and Urs Huber won the first stage of the 17th Transalp. Team Bulls 1 mastered the 98km Oberammergau to Imst in 3:33.23, relegating defending champions from Germany Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käß of Centurion Vaude 1 to second place at three seconds. Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek of Topeak Ergon rounded out the podium as third.
The Austrian-Czech duo finished the fast stage in 3:35.20 having a gap of 1:57 minutes on Huber and Platt, who had won the opening stage to Imst two years ago already.
"I'm very happy with this win because I was struggling with several problems and injuries prior to the TransAlp. I was pretty nervous. But I stuck to my training and it paid off," said Platt who nailed his career's 38th TransAlp stage win today.
In addition, the 36-year-old pro also explained the team's tactic change compared to previous years. "We wanted to act a bit more defensive and play it cool. We know that the stages still to come are pretty exhausting so we wanted to save some energy."
However, when the five team-strong breakaway group reached the Marienbergjoch, the first real climb of this year's Transalp routing and sole pass today, his and his team mate's legs were strong enough to bring about a decision.
"It was obvious that it was all about this climb. We worked well together with Centurion Vaude and finally claimed the win."
Despite the close defeat in the finish sprint Jochen Käß was also fine with the result. "I'm pleased coming out second. We controlled the pace and are still within reach to the yellow jersey .There are six more stages to come. All good for the moment."
For the next days, the defending champion expects more than a duel - at least a battle of three teams: "Lakata had some problems today and lost some time. I'm sure that they will try to make up some time and attack."
Pink jerseys go to Austria
In the women's event, Silke Schrattenecker and Barbara Mayer of Team Nakita Powermums came out victorious in 4:33.21.
The two Austrians edged off last year's second ranked women's duo from Switzerland to second rank (4:37.28). Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fässler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott have already a gap of more than four minutes to close.
Swiss racer's Barbara Liardet and Stéphanie Gutknecht of Cyclone Sport/Rochat Cycles rounded out the podium as third (4:41.13).
The win in the Mixed category went to British athletes Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas of Topeak Ergon Racing (3:57.49,9).
For results, click here.