For the first time in the history of the Alpentour Trophy a Greek rider won a stage. Ilias Periklis is the winner of today’s time trial onto the Planai Mountain, Jacob Nimpf was third as best Austrian in the field. Uwe Hochenwarter, second overall, had to take a beating.
As if the steep incline of the mountain didn’t exist – that’s how the Greek rider Ilias Periklis raced towards the finish at the Schafalm, which lies high above Schladming on 1,100m. He was also the only rider among the by now 276-strong field who stayed below the magic 50 minute mark – the clock stopped at an unbelievable time of 49:36.
Yesterday a crash yesterday had set him back right after the start (4th), but today the course was right up the Team Protek rider’s alley. “Technically I’m not too good, but climbing I like. I gambled with a win. And that it actually worked out today makes me really happy”, said the MTB and road elite racer. Coming in 27 seconds behind Periklis, the current leader in the King of the Mountain classification, Jukka Vastaranta, held true to his word from yesterday that he would push hard during the time trial. The real sensation of the day, however, happened 34 further seconds behind the Finnish rider: Jacob Nimpf (24) from the Zweirad Janger Simplon Team astonishingly took out the third podium position as best Austrian among the field. “This is unreal, especially because I had to study until way past midnight for my upcoming exams”, said the medical student from Lower Austria, who has a bit of a soft spot for climbing and riding at the limit.
Female Elite: reverse podium
Surprising turn of events also in the elite female field. The to date third-positioned Dutch rider Mirre Stallen took out the day’s stage win in 1:05:45 ahead of Mary McConneloug and Katrin Leumann – even though the two elite racers confirmed at the top that they had ridden well and with “good legs”.
“It’s weird that I love the mountains, being Dutch and all, but it’s true”, said the amateur rider from the Cube Nutswerk team, visibly excited not only about climbing hills but also about the Alpentour in general.
Even though today’s stage with 15 km / 1,100m was short in comparison to the ones so far, most of the riders arrived at the finish line drained and worn out. Many hobby riders had completely exhausted themselves in the soft alpine grassland terrain and gravel roads – among them was snowboard double world champion Benjamin Karl. “I knew that I would suffer today”, said the Lower Austrian. Overall, however, the winter athlete copes surprisingly well with his first MTB stage race – together with Mario Färberböck and Martin Feichtegger his “Weltmeisterteam” (World Champion Team) is leading the team classification within the sport category.
Considerably more relaxed „MTBabe“ Eva Bouwen approached the exceptional physical stress. The Belgian sport category rider is coming in at the end of the field, holding the “Red Lantern” with her team mate Hanne Geudens. Yesterday the two outgoing ladies in hot-pink had reached the finish at 17:30 with a few photo-stopps and walking some sections and today they used the time trial to “take in even more impressions of this breathtaking landscape”.
Fight for second place overall
In the overall classification the heat is on again now. Not in terms of the overall lead, though. That one is firm in Russian hand – Alexey Medvedev increased his lead to over eight minutes with a fourth place today. However, Periklis, with his stage win today is causing Muskelkater Genesis Team rider Uwe Hochenwarter (currently in second) distress. Contrary to expectations, the Austrian had struggled physically today with his “body that was not performing as it should” and came in 12th. Now he has only a 16 second lead against his chaser, who smells the bacon already. “I do think that a second place is within reach”, said the combative Greek Periklis.
In the Masters and Female categories overall everything seems to have been decided – Robert Novotny leads with 11 minutes, Katrin Leumann with 13. Nevertheless Mary McConneloug wants to take her last chance to take out a daily stage and for that she hopes for a course that is as tough as the one from yesterday. “That was unbelievable, inspiring, just glorious! I love this kind of suffering and the battle against the elements”, said the American who is on tour racing in Europe.
With an undulating, singletrail-heavy first third part of the course, a tough climb onto the Hauser Kaibling Mountain and a last trial of the riders’ endurance on the Fastenberg peak those desires could well be fulfilled…
RESULTS of stage 3 Alpentour Trophy, 4.6.2011
1. Ilias Periklis/GRE Team Protek 49:36
2. Jukka Vastaranta/FIN Milka-Trek MTB Racing Team 50:03
3. Jacob Nimpf/AUT Zweirad Janger Simplon 50:37
4. Alexey Medvedev/RUS Elettroveneta Corratec 50:38
5. Andras Parti/HUN Euroone-Cube UCI MTB Team 50:52
1. Mirre Stallen/NED Cube Nutswerk MTB Team 1:05:45
2. Mary McConneloug/USA Team Kenda/Seven/NoTubes 1:05:54
3. Katrin Leumann/SUI Ghost Factory Racing Team 1:06:37
1. Robert Novotny/CZE Ceska sporitelna-Sweep Cycling 57:20
2. Andreas Gatterer/AUT Zweirad Janger Simplon 57:52
3. Markus Bless/SUI Tower Sports-VC Eschenbach 58:35
OVERALL Results after 3 stages
1. Alexey Medvedev/RUS Elettroveneta Corratec 6:46:01
2. Uwe Hochenwarter/AUT Muskelkater Genesis Team 6:54:16
3. Ilias Periklis/GRE Team Protek 6:54:32
1. Katrin Leumann/SUI Ghost Factory Racing Team 8:34:15
1. Robert Novotny/CZE Ceska sporitelna-Sweep Cycling 7:36:48
Link to full results (scroll down): http://www.mtbfestival.at/index.php?id=44