Ok so that was part reality check and part amazing, the reality check coming right at the 75km mark when I realized there may actually be a dark art to racing as a mixed pair!
The stage started with a slightly terrifying ‘neutralised’ section of 20km, this is generally meant to safely ferry riders along the main traffic routes and onto the course proper. Alas the neutralised section features something mountain bikers do very little of, bunch riding! Chopping, line switching, surging and some marvelously bad spatial awareness made for a very nervous start and the odd spectacular wheel touch.
Surviving the start meant we set about trying to find our own rhythm. Today was a great day for getting to grips with what lay ahead, not too technical, not too brutal, gentle gradients predominantly and a fairly large helping of fire road.
Having never raced mixed I had set out to get the unofficial ‘Best Mixed Partner Award’, I think this was probably mildly amusing or quite possibly very irritating to Naomi ‘Diesel’ Hansen ‘Gnome you need a gel?’ ‘you got enough water?’ I was burning more energy than a squirrel on a treadmill.
Pretty soon it became apparent that Naomi would dictate just what she needed quietly without too much bother, the pace, a pocket grab or when we latched onto a passing grupetto, all completely in her stride.
Having inexplicably fried myself after the second water point at 72km I suddenly realized, ‘Oops, I’ve done too much’ Bah, how annoying, Naomi was disappearing up the last 3km steep section, rightly thinking ‘He best sort it out’ and my head felt like it was about to explode, no, no, no, this is not how you earn kudos!
Cresting the Marienbergjoch at 1700m felt a little too much like I’d conquered Everest, way too happy about the descent where I could get back up Naomi and reclaim my dignity. Naomi was happily thundering along the last bike paths to Imst while I tried my best to contain the general nausea I was feeling and pretend everything was ok!
New found respect for my partner, a little annoyed with myself, I got the Hansen version of a telling off ‘If you push too much you’ll be no good to anyone, now find a smile, drink a coffee and get to the media centre’ ‘Yes mam’
No idea where we finished, I’m going to get the recovery happening and tomorrow is a new day where I may be a little less of the excited idiot and ride like I have a clue!
PS It was bloody brilliant
For complete results: Datasport Events
Karl Platt and Urs Huber have won the first stage of the 17th Craft BIKE Transalp powered by Sigma. Team Bulls 1 mastered the stage, relegating defending champions from Germany Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käß of Centurion Vaude 1 with 3,4 seconds to the second rank. Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek of Topeak Ergon rounded out the podium as third.
“I’m very happy with this win because I was struggling with several problems and injuries prior to the Transalp. I was pretty nervous. But I stuck to my training and it paid off,” said Platt who nailed his career’s 38th Transalp stage win today. “We wanted to act a bit more defensive and play it cool. We know that the stages still to come are pretty exhausting so we wanted to save some energy.”
However, when the five team-strong breakaway group reached the Marienbergjoch, the first real climb of this year’s Transalp routing and sole pass today, his and his team mate’s legs were strong enough to bring about a decision.
“It was obvious that it was all about this climb. We worked well together with Centurion Vaude and finally claimed the win.”
In the women’s event, Silke Schrattenecker and Barbara Mayer of Team Nakita Powermums came out victorious in 4:33.20,9.
The two Austrians edged off last year’s second ranked women’s duo from Switzerland to second rank (4:37.28,3). Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fässler of Crazy Velo Shop Scott have already a gap of more than four minutes to close. Swiss racer’s Barbara Liardet and Stéphanie Gutknecht of Cyclone Sport/Rochat Cycles rounded out the podium as third (4:41.12,6).
The win in the Mixed category went to British athletes Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas of Topeak Ergon Racing (3:57.49,9).