One of the best known and most established mountain bike stage races, the TransAlp, will kick off for its 14th edition on Saturday with 550 teams from 37 countries to start. The longest TransAlp in history will begin in Mittenwald, Germany, and go for 675km and 21,776m of climbing before finishing eight days laster in Riva del Garda, Italy.
There are 450 men's, 370 masters', 150 mixed, 100 senior masters' and 30 women's teams registered. The best placed teams in each category will share 25,000 euros in prize money.
Battle of three for victory
Three teams are favorites for the men's win. First and foremost is Karl Platt, who is aiming for his ninth title with Team Bulls 1. He'll be without his usual partner, Stefan Sahm, who is out due to injury, and will instead be riding with new partner French champion Thomas Diestch, who is fresh off the BC Bike Race.
Multivan-Merida's Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler form a German-Swiss duo, which will be tough to beat. Former marathon world champion Massimo de Bertolis and his Italian compatriot Johann Pallhuber will also give it a go for SRMAX Autopolar Cannondale.
A few more teams could surprise, including the Swiss Team Stöckli consisting of Konny Looser and Urs Huber as well as Markus Kaufmann and Rupert Palmberger of the German Team Centurion-Vaude and newly formed German-Austrian Craft - Rocky Mountain team of Daniel Gathof and Guido Thaler.
Duel on the ladies' side
While several men's teams have good chances for the top spot on the podium, there are two female pairings in the running for the pink leaders' jerseys. The focus will be on Martina Miessgang of Austria and Katrin Neumann of Germany. Both are riding for Mountain Heroes.
Neumann's partner from last year, Danièle Troesch of France had teamed up to earn third. This year, Troesch is giving it another shot with last year's runner-up Natascha Binder as part of the Felt Ötztal X-Bionic/Rotwild team.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage.