Defending champion Christoph Sauser (SU) has claimed victory on the queens stage of the Protective BIKE Four Peaks today. The Specialized Racing athlete mastered the 59.25km and 2,421m from Hermagor to Nassfeld/Troepolach in 2:49.38,2 edging off overall leading Juri Ragnoli (ITA) of Team Scott in a sprint duel to the second rank (+ 0,4s). Uwe Hochenwarter (AUT) of Team Bikearena Obertraun rounded out the podium as third like the days before (2:52.34,3).
Matthias Leisling of Team Texpa-Simplon was the fastest German in fourth again (2:54.07,3) while Team Bulls pro Karl Platt (GER) finished in fifth position (2:55.35,9) – benefitting from the previous day’s nutella sandwich. Calle Friberg (SWE, Scott Skoda), who was sitting in fourth position of the overall ranking before going into the third stage of the four-day event took a nasty crash in the first downhill from Madritschen suffering a deep cut to his right knew and was therefore forced to withdraw from the competition.
When the accident took place, the two dominant racers of the day had already launched a successful attack and had been broken away. Sauser and Ragnoli stormed up the longest climb of the Four Peaks (1,300m over 15km) with 400 watt early setting the course for a tight duel.
Both worked together over the next kilometres and shared the work in the wind before they entered the final downhill on the Carnia slope down to the finish head to head.
In the end, the Swiss racer who had been beaten yesterday with a blink of the eye came out victorious. “Today was the first time I felt good. It was the first time I was able to pick up some speed. Juri [Ragnoli] and me were riding on a very high level. I’m optimistic going into the world champs now. The Four Peaks came in right in time for me,” said Sauser who will compete in his career’s last race next weekend.
While signs are pointing to a great farewell of the 39-year-old 2000 Olympic bronze medallist who will race his last stage of a multi-day event tomorrow Ragnoli still has good prospects.
The 26-year-old Italian is close to his career’s biggest triumph so far going into the final Four Peaks day with a lead of 4.42,3 minutes on Sauser. No wonder that he was pleased with both, his performance and today’s result:
“Sauser was keeping the pace high. I’m happy that I was able to keep up with him and that I could defend the yellow jersey. Now it’s only one last day to go,” explained Ragnoli.
Dutch racer dominates women’s category
In the women’s event, Sanne van Paassen (NED) also opened the door wide to earn the Four Peaks title. The Dutch Specialized racer celebrated her third consecutive stage win in 3:38.22,5.
Cornelia Hug (SUI) of Crazy Velo Shop Scott took second (3:42.21,3) while Erika Speck (SUI) of Team Vesto/RMC Appenzell jumped on the podium for the first time coming in as third (3:43.55.9). However, the Swiss capitalised on two defects of Angelika Tazreiter (AUT, SV Kuernberg) who lost a lot of time finishing the race as fourth (3:346.47,5) and therefor dropped from second to third position in the overall ranking.
Boelts and Zoerweg up in front
The two senior categories were won by their respective leaders. Although Udo Boelts (GER) of Craft-Rocky Mountain said that it was a very tough stage and that he had to suffer a lot in the climbs the 12-time finisher of the Tour de France was able to celebrate his second stage win in the masters category (male 40+) in 3:04.30,0.
Heinz Zoerweg (AUT) of KTM Rad.Sport.Szene Ausseerland was once again unstoppable in the grand masters category (male 50+) earning another win in 3:20.56,4.
The Protective BIKE Four Peaks will conclude tomorrow with the last stage leading the field via 71.15km and 2,122m from Nassfeld/Troepolach to Weissensee.
All results are available online.