Lukas Buchli and Thomas Stoll clinched victory at the second stage of the 2010 TransAlp. The 2009 race winners mastered the 76.92 kilometres and 3,184 metres of altitude from Imst to Ischgl in Austria in 3:27:02. In the end, the two Swiss, who had attacked the rest of the pack right away in the first of the three climbs up to Venetalm, saved 35 seconds of the more than two minutes of lead they had gained throughout the day before. Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler came in second, 1 second ahead of Germany's Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls for second and third.
It being a close finish was due to the incredible work of Hannes Genze. The 2005 European Champion was pushing it hard for the chasing group from See to makeup time. Teams dropped off the pace, and in the end, it was only Multivan Merida Biking and Team Bulls which were left to breathe down the neck of the of BiXS iXS Pro Team.
"In the end, it was a close thing," said Buchli. But the plan for a stage win worked out perfectly today as the 31-year-old's teammate Stoll explained. "We wanted to attack. We noticed yesterday that we are very strong in the climbs, so we tried to outrace the competition." It paid off for awhile. "We had gained a comfortable lead of more than two minutes and didn’t risk anything on the last kilometres," the 27-year-old said.
Despite set-back, Team Bulls still optimistic
Yesterday's winner Karl Platt complimented his rivals from Switzerland on their performance. "To be honest, both pushed the pedal right from the beginning on. We decided to ride our own speed," the six-time Transalp winner stated.
Considering the gap in the ranking of 34 seconds, the experienced Bulls pilot kept cool and collected. True to the motto "Days of the bulls to come in the second half of the race," Platt said, "If we are two or three minutes behind until the halfway point of the race, it would be fine. I could live with it. There is still the possibility that such an attack, forced at such an early stage of a long tour, comes home to roost. I have competed in 20 long stage races, Buchli/Stoll are doing their second TransAlp."
Team Cube extends lead in master category
After they had scored a surprising coup yesterday, the glory days continued for Udo Bölts and Silvio Wieltschnig. The duo crossed the finish line in Ischgl after 3:43:06, extending their lead in the master category.
Runners-up Johann Grasegger and Georg Koch of Team Scott / RS Janger followed, consolidating their second rank in the classifier. The dominating duo in the master class of the last four years finished as third. Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg of Austria's Team KTM were third..
Ladies, mixed and senior master leaders show no weakness
On the ladies' side, the two sisters from Denmark, Kristine and Anna-Sofie Norgaard secured another easy victory. As both rode only 4:25:53, they were more than 25 minutes faster than their main rivals of Felt Ötztal X-Bionic / Cannondale Store. Germany's Natascha Binder and Bettina Dietz came in second after 4:51:02. Austria’s Theresia Kellermayr and Heidi Scharnreiter of Team Haibike/Zweirad Janger jumped on the podium as third.
Despite their huge lead in the ranking, the ladies' competition of being locked out of stage wins. "Anna-Sofie Norgaard said, "No matter what, we will try to win every single stage." They may be able to do just that.
In the mixed classification, Pia Sundstedt and Daniel Gathof were once again the unbeatable duo. Milena Landtwing and Heiko Gutmann of Rothaus Cube and Swiss Jane Nüssli and Markus Hochstrasser of credo-bikes.com rounded out the podium as second and third respectively.
In the senior master category, the fastest duo was Team Craft with Germany's Ferdinand Ganser and Georg Niggl (4:23:51.6). Switzerland's Max Bertschinger and Thomas Rüegg of Thomax Bike rolled in as runners-up, more than two minutes ahead of third ranked South Tyrol's Josef Pallhuber and Hartmann Stifter of Green Valley Team 100.
Stage 3 Preview: Ischgl, Austria to Scuol, Switzerland
On the way to Switzerland, a lot of riders will think they are experiencing deja vu as stage three starts like the second one - right away with a tough climb beginning at kilometre four. This time, it's not only the highest peak of the day but also the highest peak of the race. Up to Idjoch, 1,400 metres of altitude have to be conquered along 10 kilometres.
Thereafter, the downhill to Samnaun and Spiss makes up for it all. After Kobleralm, the field cycles on for Kajetansbrücke from where the route nicely meanders along the Inn through forests and across meadows as well as wetlands. The last 30 kilometres might be tough with their small but constant gradient, but many fewer metres of altitude have to be climbed.