Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käss have taken a big step toward clinching the overall title with their second consecutive stage win at this year's TransAlp. The defending champions of Centurion Vaude 1 mastered the 74km course Naturns to Sarnthein in 3:22:26. Their teammates Daniel Geismayr and Hannes Genze of Centurion Vaude 2 came in 2:18 later, making the double victory perfect.
Italian national team members Franz Hofer and Daniele Mensi of Team Scott rounded out the podium as third and celebrated their career's first TransAlp podium finish.
Thanks to another strong performance on day four of the Alps crossing stage race, the wearers of the yellow jerseys extended their lead in the overall ranking. Kaufmann and Käss have an advantage of 7:40 on their main pursuers who - since today - are coming from the same squad. Geismayr and Genze took over the runner-up position.
However the Austrian-German duo capitalised on a fatal technical defect suffered by so far second ranked Team Topeak Ergon Racing with Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek.
After a successful attack in the 1,800m climb from Sinich to Vöraner Alm, the two Centurion Vaude teams and Topeak Ergon Racing raced uphill together until the final, technical descent from the Sarner Skihütte brought the battle for the stage win to a head.
Hynek made a mistake and hit a stone which caused a flat and later a broken rim. As a result, the luckless racer had to tackle the last three kilometres by foot.
"It's a disaster," he said. "I had to run the last kilometres. I don't know what to say."
While the race day wrapped up in the most frustrating way for one title aspirant, another was able to take positive stock of the results.
"Of course we are pleased with the stage. We take it day by day like last year and try to make the best out of it when other teams have some problems. This is what we did today. Now we have a comfortable lead over our second team," said Käess after the finish.
Nakita Powermums reduce deficit
Day four brought a little bit of action for the women's overall classification when Silke Schrattenecker and Barbara Mayer made up some time on the women's leaders.
The two Austrian racers mastered the 73km from Vinschgau to Sarntal in 4:31:33, finishing seven minutes ahead of Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fässler. But the two Swiss athletes of Crazy Velo Shop Scott still have some 15-minute advantage over their main rivals from Nakita Powermums - with only three more stages to go.
Sarah Bosch and Danièle Troesch of Mountain Heroes finished in third position and also sit in third in the women's ranking.
Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas of Topeak Ergon Racing also claimed their fourth win in a row in the Mixed category (4:03:41).
The best climber classification is still dominated by Jochen Weisenseel of Team Sigma Rox Rocky.
In the enduro, Florian Schön of Scott Bike24 MTN Team 1 was able to extend his lead to 14 seconds over Team Texpa-Simplon racer Andreas Kleiber.
The best U23 talent is Frank Demuth of Centurion Vaude 3 who leads the category by only 0.1 seconds over Lukas Islitzer of Craft-Rocky Mountain.
For full results, click here.