Transalp Stage 5: Bormio to Mezzana – 86.32km with 3073m climbing.
Stage 5 is the queen stage of the 2016 Bike Transalp and we were suitably scared about how we would find it. Our first question this morning was whether we would even be able to start today after Chris had a bout of tummy troubles last night and didn’t manage to have any dinner. He decided that he wanted to start this morning just to see.
Pernsteiner and Geismayr consolidate as Topeak Ergon crash
Hermann Pernsteiner and Daniel Geismayr have gone from contenders to genuine GC hopefuls on the fifth day of the BIKE Transalp powered by Sigma. The overall leaders Centurion Vaude 2 blazed the 86.32 km and 3,073 metres of climbing from Bormio to Mezzana in 3h52m therefore extending their lead in the battle for the title. However, the two Austrians also benefitted from the misfortune of their biggest rivals.
Kristian Hynek crashed at the top of the final climb suffering an injury of his right shoulder. Together with his Austrian teammate Alban Lakata he entered the queen’s stage of the 19th Transalp edition over Passo Gavia and Alta Via Camuna with the tiny deficit of only 5,9 seconds. In the end, Topeak Ergon Racing 1 lost 9m20s on today’s winners, coming in as fifth best men team. As if that wasn’t tough enough the pursuers of the Yellow Jerseys don’t know yet if they can compete on tomorrow’s sixth of seven stages as a visit to the hospital is required. The latest news is that it is likely a broken collarbone for Hynek, ruling him out of the coming stages.
“It’s been only a few seconds of lack in concentration, and I hit something in the grass. I then went over the handle bar. We will find out if I broke my collarbone or damaged the ligaments,” said Hynek. The crash of this year’s world championships bronze medallist has cast a cloud over the fourth consecutive stage win of the strong young guns from Centurion Vaude 2.
“That’s a bummer for sure! And a good proof on how quickly such a race can change. But we never wanted to end the title battle this way. We do hope that Kristian [Hynek] isn’t injured too bad and that he will be able to continue the race,” stated Hermann Pernsteiner.
Today’s second and third places went to Johnny Cattaneo and Tony Longo of Wilier Force 1 and defending champions Markus Kaufmann (GER) and Jochen Kaess (GER) of Centurion Vaude 1 respectively.
Third placed overall Karl Platt and Urs Huber of Team Bulls 1 lost some more time in the title battle finishing the stage in fourth.
Women leaders clinch photo finish
Sarah Reiners and Cemile Trommer of Team Nutrixxion Focus RAPIRO have once again underlined their downhill skills today. The leading women’s pair had already lost more than four minutes at the summit of the second climb but caught up metre by metre on Alta Via Camuta and the decent to Passo Tonale, finally clinching the photo finish with only 0,1 seconds ahead of Swiss Sabrina Compassi and Melanie Alexander.
However, the pair racing for Cyclopedia-DANiSchnider Radsport had reason to be pleased with the result today too, as they climbed from third to second in the overall ranking.
Grand master leaders strike back
Thanks to an outstanding performance today Hansjuerg Gerber and Daniel Annaheim were able to bring home their second stage win therefore finally extending their lead. Team baumat/bikeholiday.ch mastered the leg to Mezzana in 4h45 and now have an advantage of more than 13 minutes on today’s third placed team Thomas Damm and Peter Vesel of Scott Fahrradladen Gudensberg with only two more stages to come.
Mixed leaders beaten for first time
While Massimo Debertolis and Andreas Laner of Wilier Force 2 were able to keep a clean sheet clinching the queen’s stage of the 19th Transalp edition in the master category. Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas missed pulling off this feat in the mixed category. Topeak Ergon Racing 3 came in second mixed pair with a deficit of only 0,4 seconds to defending champions and second placed overall Team Herzlichst Zypern I with Sascha Schwindling and Silke Ulrich.
Tomorrow’s stage from Mezzana to Trento might only bring one real climb up to Passo le Fraine but also a total of 88.24 km and 2,364 metres of climbing.
You can find all results of stage five here.
Staying firm at Transalp
After such an uncertain start Chris and I simply planned to ride and just see how we felt today. In the mixed category team dynamics play a very important role, particularly back in our part of the field. The (usually) stronger man pushing or towing his partner for extended parts of the climbs in order to even out effort to whatever extent possible. But there also seems to be a danger that the weaker team members push themselves too hard anyway. We have now seen at least two broken collarbones for female members of mixed teams, as well as one broken leg and several cases of gravel rash of varying severity.
Knowing that Chris would feel weaker today we knew that we had to be very careful. It was unlikely that he would have the strength to push me and he needed to ensure that he kept calories coming in more than usual. So we plodded every single climb at my (very slow) pace. Using this tactic we probably paced the stage better and had more brain power for the descents than we might have done had the circumstances been different. We actually passed some of the teams we have been riding around so far and through managing to jump in a good group on the final descent flew the last 15km. Having had no expectations we had a really great day.
My less than glamorous antics last night (I won’t gross you out with the details, but it did involve dashing to an open drain…) meant I was pretty concerned that I wasn’t going to be up to much today. I slept fitfully, my stomach hurt, and I had a headache from missing dinner and dehydration, despite Rachel’s best efforts to keep me fed and hydrated. But amazingly, I woke up this morning feeling not as awful. I could countenance the thought of breakfast, but felt sure I was going to be riding the whole day on a hunger flat. As it turned out, I was okay, Rachel was okay, we rode within ourselves up until the last 20km, and we had what I consider our best result yet of the race. It just goes to show, you never know until you try!