Stage 2, Hauser Kaibling // 56 km, 2000m
After Leonardo Paez broke his finger on yesterday’s first stage, he also suffered a deep cut under his eye and arrived at the finish with a bloody knee. Even his own Bianchi MTB team admitted that they assumed that yesterday’s stage winner Leonardo Paez would retire from the race. However, the Columbian racer proved today that he is a tough cookie. He took on the second stage onto the Hauser Kaibling mountain and defended his overall race lead against today’s stage winner Roel Paulissen (BEL) by 16 seconds. Overall Paulissen is now in third, right behind Tony Longo, the overall second. But still, a bit of bad luck was still in his way: once again Paez rode across the line with blood streaming down his legs. Tied up around his rear cassette and chain was some tape, which was a nasty handicap on the final descent.
Considering other riders’ fate, Paez still was one of the lucky racers. The Dutch rider Mathijs Wansink, for instance, crashed so severely that he was unconscious and swallowed his tongue. Thanks to the quick reaction by two fellow Dutch riders, Saksia Dhont and Stan Coppens a real tragedy was averted and last night organisers had word from Wansink’s hospital bed that he was on the way to recovery. Alpentour Trophy organiser Gerhard Schönbacher thanked the two riders personally and invited them to next year’s event. Asked to comment about the tragic moments, Saskia wasn’t able to answer, too many emotions were still raw in her mind. Just “everyday heroes”, who don’t need a spot in the limelight.
In the Elite Women’s category yesterday’s result was repeated: Sally Bigham (GBR) won again ahead of the Austrian Christina Kollmann and now holds an 8:01 minute lead overall. The New Zealand racer Kate Fluker was again third ahead of the Australian National Road Champion Peta Mullens and the Belgian Githa Michiels.
From the mouths of racers
Roel Paulissen: “Paez and Longo pushed really hard right from the start, then I was able to catch up to them. From last year I knew how important it was to be the first to enter the last descent after the asphalt road. I just managed to overtake the Greek Periklis. I’m very happy with this victory, of course, but there are still two hard days ahead that will decide a lot still.”
Ilias Periklis: “I had a really rough start and then had to chase hard to keep up. But I was surprised that I was first on top of the mountain. So now I’m all the more disappointed that I wasn’t able to take that 20 second lead all the way to the finish.”
Daniel Geismayr: “On the climb I was way behind at some point, but suddenly right back in the group. A great stage and an fantastic result for me.”
Urs Huber: “A fast start, a fast race! At some point I was able to break away even and had a good minute lead. But unfortunately that wasn’t enough, even though the heat wasn’t the problem.”
Alban Lakata: “I definitely didn’t have my best day, my tyre choice wasn’t ideal either, I think I was too careful with it. The strong performance by Daniel Geismayr is no surprise for me, I know his potential.”
Sam Gaze: “I rode on my limit all day, but it wasn’t enough.“
Ben Oliver: “I didn’t think that my performance was that bad, but how these top guys race down these descents is unbelievable for me.
Markus Bauer: “Honestly, I’m really fed up with it all. Early on I rode well among the top 20, but then I had a flat tyre. I fixed that one and four kilometres ahead of the finish I had another one and I rolled home on my bare wheels. For me, Paulissen is a favourite not only here but also for the World Championships in Italy in two weeks.”
Jon Schottler: “At least I felt better than yesterday, but the heat was brutal. Also, because there are such long climbs on the first two days. And on Saturday we have the Dachstein on the menu, that’s another 2800 m of elevation.”
Sally Bigham: “I didn’t have to go to my limits entirely today, I had a really good race. I coped well with the heat and hope that I can defend my lead over the next two days.”
Christina Kollmann: “For me it was too hot today, I struggled and was riding on the limit. The climb onto the Hauser Kaibling was extremely tough and that’s where Sally rode away from me. She’s unbeatable at the moment.
Kate Fluker: “Third place again – I like it! I really enjoy climbing, that’s why I’m already looking forward to the time trial on Sunday, I haven’t done one before.”
Peta Mullens: “Unreal how short this stage was today – I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the last descent coming up! I had a great day, I loved today’s stage. I rode with Kate [Fluker] in the beginning. It’s her first stage race and we had a bit of a chat about it all. But tomorrow is going to be tough again, I reckon.”
Results, Stage 2 (Hauser Kaibling, 56 km / 2000 m):
1. Paulissen (Bel) 2:16:29,5
2. Periklis (Gr) +0:02
3. Geismayr (Ö) +0:03
Overall: 1. Paez (Col) 5:07:32, 2. Longo (It) +0:00:07, 3. Paulissen +0:00:16
1. Bigham (Gb) 2:40:38,2
2. Kollmann (Ö) +4:52
3. Fluker (Nzl) +6:37
Overall: 1. Bigham 6:07:56, 2. Kollmann +00:08:01, 3. Fluker +00:13:23