Transalp Stage 4: Livigno to Bormio. 73.55km with 2573m climbing
Today’s transalp stage made a little bit of history, as despite starting many times in Livigno, and crossing the Umbrail pass, Bormio has never before featured as a stage town. Perhaps the fearsome ascent of the Gavia necessary to leave Bormio and head towards Lake Garda has always put the organisers off. Whatever the case, today’s race featured the “Cima Coppi” of the Transalp, the 2760m Bochetta di Forcola. And tomorrow, its little brother the Gavia is central to the queen stage. Brutal!
Pernsteiner and Geismayr earn a hatrick of stage wins & take over lead | Women’s leaders scoop a stage for first time
Hermann Pernsteiner & Daniel Geismayr have taken over the lead in the overall ranking of the BIKE Transalp powered by Sigma by bringing home their third consecutive stage win. The two Austrians racing for Centurion Vaude 2 crossed the line first after 73.6 km and 2,573 metres of climbing from Livigno to Bormio in a scorching 3h21m, leading Topeak Ergon Racing’s Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek by the 45s they needed to take over the yellow jerseys.
Unbelievably, less than 6 seconds separate the two strongest pairs of the 19th Transalp edition after four days of racing. Johnny Cattaneo & Tony Longo of Wilier Force 1 came in as third best men team 1m11s back. The front teams were forced to keep up the high pace over a hot stage featuring three massive climbs, the Passo Alpisella, Doess Radond and the highest peak of the race week Bocchetta di Forcola.
However, the decisive move didn’t take place in the final climb of a “brutal stage” (Hermann Pernsteiner) but in the descent through the moon-like landscape of Bocchetta di Forcola.
“We all suffered from the altitude at the top. Then we attacked in the downhill. We do have a superb package this year. We are strong in the climbs, and we are also fast in the descents,” said Pernsteiner before adding: “We didn’t expect it but are happy about the lead. However, it’s still three days to go and I guess we will see some more tough fighting. This lead is nothing.”
Alban Lakata was also surprised to fall behind in the overall ranking, leading to an exciting title battle: “It’s going to be a very close decision. We didn’t want to risk too much in the final descent. We are currently losing time in the downhills. It’s like it is. Unfortunately it didn’t work out today. Now we have to hope that we can reduce arrears again.”
First win for women’s leaders
Sarah Reiners and Cemile Trommer of Team Nutrixxion Focus RAPIRO have celebrated their first ever Transalp stage win, clocking a time of 4h44m on today’s stage.
“We are more than happy that we finally have our stage win after we took over the overall lead yesterday. We keep on concentrating on ourselves and don’t get deterred by our rivals as we are having advantages in the technical sections,” said Cemile Trommer with a smile.
The Pink Jerseys are now more than 5m30s ahead of Anglo-Italian duo Lorenza Menapace and Elisabeth Ann Simpson of Val di Sole Bikeland_Lady who came in third today.
Grand master leader under pressure
Once again mirroring the Men’s category, Thomas Damm and Peter Vesel of Scott Fahrradladen Gudensberg brought home their third consecutive stage win. They also reduced their gap to leading grand master racers Hansjuerg Gerber and Daniel Annaheim again, who still have an advantage of 46,5s.
Master and mixed leaders take another one
Masters Massimo Debertolis & Andreas Laner of Wilier Force 2, and also Mixed Pair Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas of Topeak Ergon Racing 3 have been imperious, winning every stage so far, and extending their overall lead each day.
Results via Datasport are online here.
“But what do you want ?”
Today was a tough stage. From the gun, both Rachel and me had no idea how we would feel. The steep, loose climb of the Alpisella pass away from Livigno and into the mountains would soon answer that question. Not bad, but not good either. In the back of both our minds was the fearsome Passo Umbrail, stretching out over 1000m of ascent from Santa Maria. But it’s tarmac, and tarmac is only scary to roadies. It turns out, as always, we should have been much more scared of the off road kick to the Bochetta di Forcola.
I found myself asking the same question over and over to Rachel over the course of today’s stage – “what do you want to do?”. Racing mixed pairs, for most at least, relegates the man to role of “engine” whilst the woman takes up the slack (often appropriately) as the “brain” of the duo. There is no point in pushing on if your partner can’t stick the pace, and so it’s often up to the weaker participant to dictate what you choose to do.
Turns out that possibly one of my most obvious, but also favourite themes, racing as a paradigm for life, takes over here. See, the question “but what do you really want” goes much further than simply “do you want to chase that mixed pair up there, or not?”. It’s a small leap to realise it’s a question a lot of amateur cyclists struggle with. Do we want to race to win, or ride to have fun? Can we do both? If so, how? In the middle ground, where Rachel and I definitely lie in our abilities as amateurs, it can be tough; it’s so easy to set yourself unrealistic goals and then be hard on yourself when you don’t meet them, it’s much tougher to be aspiring, but grounded.
Anyway, back to our day on the trail. The answer to my question, every time, was “let’s just ride”. And ride we did, just like we did over the same terrain two years ago. The pass has got at least 5km longer since then, and the descent considerably more insane, but you know what, it was fun. And that’s what we came for!