The final day of a multiday race such as Transalp is never as easy as the guidebook depicts and our stage 7 was equally as tough as any of the 6 stages we had completed prior. On paper the stage looked simple… 62.7km with a mere 2300hm from Trento to Riva Del Garda… an uphill start from 100m to 1500m over approximately 20km then downhill for approximately 10-12km before going uphill for 10km and the final downhill run to Riva with a small uphill bleb on the way… easy!… or not so…
This is the way our day progressed… we started at 0900 in Trento in a thunderstorm, not just a rain shower but real live lightning and thunder noises. Magellan was undercharged and not wanting to play the rain game so I rode pretty blind to the distance and altitude. The initial uphill was brutal but we managed to creep forward from chute B to ride with some of the chute A teams and once in a rhythm Stu towed me up the climb… the rain persisted and as we climbed the temperature dropped. We reached 1500m with a clap of thunder and shot of lightning to traverse the top into a muddy quagmire of trails.
The trail on the way up was still in fair condition considering the wet but across the top and down the other side we were bottom bracket deep in mud and water (heads up Venture Cycles). The trails had deteriorated and were rivers of mud and water making for some tricky slippery descending. The kind of descending that requires no hesitation and nerves of steel… any sign of fear and the Euro riders converge from all sides like predators on prey smacking past the weak and enjoying every minute of it. Do not make a sound and stay strong.
Stu was a rock on this stage and I had no choice but to follow… one pedal stroke at a time we crept closer to Riva. The rain ceased and the trails opened up..
Some 4:31ish hours later we crossed the finish in Riva completely caked in mud and very happy to be safely ‘home’ and in a top 10 position (9th to be exact).
This year Transalp was a mission and many riders reported it to be the toughest year so far. The new routing and increase in technical riding made the kilometres pass by slowly but the new trails were amazing and very enjoyable to ride. I heard more than one rider comment that even if you were having a ‘bad’ day the trails did make you smile with each day rated 5 star for panorama and single track inclusion.
Transalp is tough but now appeals to a wider range of riders as it is more than just a fire trail event. The stage towns are very picturesque, the weather a bit extreme this year but I am sure that is an anomaly, there is an enduro prize open to all riders that just want to smack themselves downhill and similarly a KOM open to the whippets. The start a sociable 0900 but there are some areas that could be enhanced… pasta party (maybe vary the food repertoire), take a leaf from Cape Epic with respect to the PRAGMA bike wash on completion of a stage (they wash your bike for you) and boost the laundry service as I think they were overloaded a bit this year.
Full results can be view on Data sport