On today's queen stage of the 2014 TransAlp over 101km, Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käss secured their first stage win in 4:24:57. Due to a better performance in the final downhill from Marzonalm, Centurion Vaude 1 edged off their currently main rivals for the TransAlp win from Topeak Ergon Racing, Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek, with an advantage of 4 seconds to the second rank.
Karl Platt and Urs Huber of Team Bulls 1 came in third (4:26:17) with a deficit of 1:19. However, the winners of the opening stage were able to reduce the deficit to overall third ranked Centurion Vaude 2. Daniel Geismayr and Hannes Genze, who were the fastest racers on yesterday's rainy stage and placed fourth today, lost 36 seconds of their advantage over Team Bulls 1 but are still ahead with 47 seconds.
Today, it all came down to the last climb and the final downhill which kicked off after a long and tough ascent over 1,000 metres of climbing from Trasch via Freiberg and Freiberger Säge to Marzonalm. But the changing weather played also an energy-sapping role.
After the start in rain-swept Nauders the top teams kept a pretty high pace over the first third of the stage with its exhausting saw tooth profile. As a result, the field got stretched quickly.
At Bruggeralm and 1,500 metres of altitude in the legs, five teams were in front. Over the next 50km, the breakaway group worked perfectly together but had to handle the weather which got more and more muggy in the Vinschgau.
At the foot of the last mountain, in Tarsch, Centurion Vaude launched an attack with Topeak Ergon Racing being the only team able to hold the pace. In the final downhill the racers of the Meckenbeuren based squad had the stronger legs and came in first with a tiny lead.
"We are pretty happy with the result. We are now some two minutes ahead. It's a nice advantage. But there are still four stages to come. Everything is still possible, so we stick to our tactic of taking it day by day," said Käß after the finish.
Alban Lakata was also able to take a positive stock out of the result - although with some little restrictions.
"I felt good until the last climb. The heavy weather wasn't good for me. Kristian (Hynek) could have ridden faster. I hope that I soon find my climbing legs again. But we only had three stages so far. We are still within reach of the leaders. That's OK," the 2014 Marathon World Championships Silver medallist stated.
Top women team extend its lead
Mastering the stage to Nauders in 6:00:50, Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fässler claimed her second consecutive stage win. The Swiss racers of Crazy Velo Shop Scott extended their lead on overall second ranked Team Nakita Powermums.
Austria's very own Silke Schrattenecker and Barbara Mayer finished the queen stage 12 minutes later (6:12:02).
The third place went to Cyclone Sport/Rochat Cycles, consisting of Swiss racers Stéphanie Gutknecht and Barbara Liardet. Liardet had been forced to pull out of yesterday's stage due to hypothermia. As a result the duo was sanctioned with the maximum penalty time and won't have a chance in the overall ranking anymore.
Sarah Bosch and Danièle Troesch of Mountain Heroes placed fourth and were able to defend their third place in the women's ranking.
In the Mixed event, British Team Topeak Ergon Racing with Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas celebrated a three-peat, too (5:16:10)
The Red Polka Dot Jersey for the best climber in the Sigma Vertical Ride event is still worn by Jochen Weisenseel of Team Sigma Rox Rocky.
In the enduro, Florian Schön of Scott Bike24 MTN Team 1 was able to defend his lead with 0.4 seconds over Andreas Kleiber of Team Texpa Simplon, wno impressed with a fifth place finish today.
Andreas Hartmann of Orthomol Kaiser Racing Team I leads the U23 classification.
For full results, click here.