The most important thing to remember about a race like Transalp is that there is NEVER an easy day.. today was a mere 73km on paper (very sociable compared to yesterdays 100km and the preceding days of 87km and 97km) but the fine print includes a 30km climb from around 32km to 62km taking us from 300m to 1900m. I never try and dictate a race before the start as there are always hiccups like traffic in the single track that cannot be avoided and disappointment sucks. Best to race every day anew and always ride your own race. Today I decided my race plan is to suffer like a dog from the start town to the finish town and wherever I end up that is my place for the day… the aim is to be safely drinking Aperol and eating Gelati in Rive Del Garda at race end.
The race started in Naturns in the beautiful sunshine and headed out through the narrow streets of the town and up a few short steep pinches before hitting the dominant feature on the profile.. the climb to Ottenbach Alm. The start was staggered (7 minute gaps) to reduce the congestion through the narrow streets of town and Stu and I were relegated to the B chute, continuing our assault from behind in the mixed field after a hefty 3 hour penalty (or so I heard from a Dutchie) for not completing stage 2.
The start was fast and the steep pinches hurt but the climb at the 32ism km point was a real mental struggle… the gradient was good for climbing and primarily tar or fire road plus we had some nice company from the Fitzroy Revolution team of David Butler and James Burns until they found their own rhythm and rode off into the sunset. The struggle was knowing the climb was approximately 30km in length and 1600hm… plus there was a nasty vertical walk up a rocky trail at around the 1000hm that made our calves scream!
The summit of the climb was amazing with views for ever (sorry no pictures) and so many hikers and bikers just hanging out as the Euros tend to do… I really think the Europeans seem to have the outdoor lifestyle sorted… they love hiking in the mountains and they ride a LOT… they love the outdoor BBQ and socialising by the river… In Australia we have the climate but rarely would we just take a hike in the great outdoors.
Anyway back to Transalp… so the summit of the climb was breathtaking (literally) at 1900+hm and I think both Stu and I paused to enjoy the surrounds before embarking on the 10km down to Sarntal. It may have been the thin air but I am pretty sure I saw a pair of Ostriches on course today. The only way to describe the descent home is to imagine the most direct and vertical path from 1900hm t0 900hm and that was out route home… arse on the back wheel and point the bike down through a pine forest (so at least the landing would be soft).. 10km straight down.. honestly!
Needless to say Stu and I were both very happy to arrive unscathed in Sarntal…
The leaders race looks fast a furious on paper with the Centurion Vaude team further extending their lead in the mens GC and the Topeak Ergon Racing team cementing their lead in the mixed category. The team Nakita Powermums took the stage win in the womens and started closing their gap on the womens lead team Crazy Velo Shop Scott.
Full results are on Datasport
Tomorrow we ride stage 5: 67km and 2785hm from Sarntal to Kaltern…