Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm have - just like in 2008 - won the first stage of the 2010 TransAlp Team Bulls was victorious in a finish sprint after having pedalled 83.76 kilometres and 2,105 metres of altitude from Füssen to Imst. The Germans defeated their mates Thomas Dietsch and Tim Böhme of Team Bulls 2, who were second, just one second behind. The second ranked French-German duo had catched up again in the flat section after Nassereith and was able to finally place in front of third-ranked Swiss title defenders Lukas Buchli and Thomas Stoll of BiXS iXS Pro Team.
But before the enthralling battle between the top three took place, everything had been set for a duel of the 2008 and 2009 title winners. After a long tit for tat until the sole climb up to Marienbergjoch, more and more teams had to pay tribute to the pace, which Buchli and Stoll had set, until only two duos had been left.
The four pros raced downhill, gaining a comfortable lead of about 20 seconds until the second food station at Nassereith when a clever manoeuvre by Platt and Sahm changed the balance of power of the leading group.
"We took it easy in the flat section giving Thomas (Dietsch) and Tim (Böhme) the chance to catch up," said Stefan Sahm after the finish. The sprint decision itself was started by Böhme but the young German didn't put it all together to bring home victory with his teammate. Due to this, Platt and Sahm were the lucky ones rolling in first on brand-new 29-inch-bikes.
"This win is very important for our self esteem as we didn't really know where we would stand." However, the new bikes also played a role. "The material is so good. The wheels have a phenomenal traction in the climbs". And it was today's sole climb which brought a preliminary decision.
Title defenders pleased
However, the 2009 winners Lukas Buchli and Thomas Stoll were the strongest riders up to the 1,810m high Marienbergjoch. Stoll was leading the whole climb and his Swiss countryman Buchli, who celebrates his 31st birthday today, also seemed to be in the mood to underline that both came to the Transalp to win the race.
According to this, the birthday boy was pleased. "The third spot is absolutely fine for us. It is a good start for us. We are in a good shape. In a sprint for victory, everything can happen!"
Surprising result in the master category
Other than expected by most of the officials, partners and spectators it wasn't the dominating master duo of the last four years consisting of Austria's Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg of Team KTM who finally finished fourth, but Udo Bölts and Silvio Wieltschnig who took over the lead in the category of those teams with a minimum age of 80 years. Team Rothaus-Cube mastered the stage Füssen - Imst in 3:01:57.
Hans Grasegger and Georg Koch of the German-Austrian Team Scott / RS Janger came in second, Marco Michelotti and Michele De Gasperi of Team Val di Sole as third.
Despite the commanding lead on this comparatively easy TransAlp stage, Bölts rejected all speculations about a possible change of power in the masters classification. "This was the first day. I'm very exhausted and the others are strong as an ox," he said.
Favourites dominate all other three categories
On the ladies side, Danish sisters Kristine and Anna-Sofie Norgaard of Rothaus-Cube succeeded according to expectations. Natascha Binder and Bettina Dietzen of Felt Ötztal X-Bionic / Cannondale Store came in second thus relegating Mountain Heroes Katrin Neumann and Danièle Troesch to third.
In the mixed class, Pia Sundstedt and her German Craft-Rocky-Mountain teammate Daniel Gathof fulfilled all expectations in 3:09:58. Milena Landtwing and Heiko Gutmann of Rothaus-Cube as well as Ivanda Eiduka and Allan Oras of Rietumu bank Delfin rounded out the podium as second and third respectively.
In the senior master category, Germany's Ferdinand Ganser and Georg Niggle tied on to where they stopped last year - with a triumph. They finished in 3:22:09, in front of Italy's Johann Pallhuber and Hartman Stifter of Green Valley Team 100 as well as Swiss Max Bertschinger and Thomas Rüegg of Thomax Bike.
Stage 2 Preview: Imst, Austria to Ischgl, Austria
The sole Austrian stage meets the requirments of the red-white-red national anthem's strophe "Country of mountains". Three decent mountains are on the way from Imst to Ischgl. The first one is also the hardest. 1,300 metres of altitude up to Venetalm will separate the wheat from the chaff. Thereafter, Pillerhöhe and the climb to Almstüberl follow. There is no chance to relax on day two as also the last 20 kilometres from See to the finish line lead uphill, making this stage one of the most difficult ones.