Photo finish On The Opening Stage of the TOUR Transalp 2018
The 16th edition of the TOUR Transalp has kicked of like a thunderbolt as Michael Spoegler (ITA) and Michael Markolf (GER) clinched the stage of the seven-day cycling tour, which led today from Brixen to St. Vigil, in a photo finish decision clocking in a time of 2:54.42,6 hours.
After 88.91 km and 2,300 metres of climbing, Team corratec 1 edged off last year's runners-ups Daniel Pechtl (AUT) and Thomas Gschnitzer (ITA) of Team Plasmatreat-Storck Bicycle 1 (2:54.43,9) as well as the defending champions from Belgium Frederic Glorieux and Bob Michels racing for Tauris - Grinta! (2:54.44,9) to the second and third rank, respectively.
It was a deserved victory for the Italian-German pairing, which had played a leading role in the battle of the top duos ever since the neutralized start phase came to an end after 10 km. Both athletes set the pace in the first steep but short ascent from the Vilnöss Valley up to the village of Gufidaun with Pechtl and Gschnitzer being the only team able to keeping up with the well attuned corratec cyclists.
Glorieux and Michels, still tired and scarred by yesterday's twelve-hour long ride from Belgium to Brixen, were forced to let go but were able to close the 30 seconds gap on the subsequent high plain above the Etsch Valley to St. Ulrich.
"It was extremely hard for us," Glorieux summed up the moment of shock. "Team corratec has really put the pedal to the metal. That was too hard for us. We then tried to go with our own speed. We are pleased that we were able to catch up again and that we didn't lose any time.“
In addition, also Italians Riccardo Zacchi and Carlo Muraro of Lightweight-Squadra Corse had made up time again so a group of eight athletes worked strongly together in the climb to Gardena Pass, one of the most famous cols of the Dolomites and truly today's route highlight.
While Zacchi and Muraro couldn't keep up with the rest in the descent via Corvara and Abtei, a fierce battle of three teams for the stage win evolved with Michael Spoegler and Michael Markolf confirming their current strong form in the slight summit finish right into the heart of St. Vigil.
Spögler, who had won the 25th Radmarathon Amadé as well as the Glocknerkoenig in the last couple of days whilst also finishing off the SuperGiroDolomiti as runner-up, said after his successful ride into the yellow jersey: "Our goal was to mix it up in the front. You can never foresee if that turns out to be enough for the lead. Especially as the others were also extremely strong. But, of course, we're glad that it turned out that way."
However, the South Tyrolean also warned: "This was an easy start today. The next few days will be a lot harder." His team mate Markolf added: "We will now calm down and rest. Tonight, we will discuss our race strategy for tomorrow."
While Team corratec 1 team will be the one chased in the men's category, two Dutch women, Linda Stuurman and Carla Mellema of Dutch Express, will start in the Pink Jerseys being the fastest women's team today (3:33.32,6).
In the masters classification, Canadians Jamie Armstrong and Geoff Dyker of TNA - Method slipped into the Blue Jerseys thanks to their victory today (3:11.10,9). The Green Jerseys of the best grand masters were secured by Austrians Günter Baringer and Axel Strauss of Roadbiker.at & Bike city in 3:13.30,0 hours, while their fellow countrymen Anna Kiesenhofer and Guenther Flatscher of Team Bikeexpress triumphed in the mixed category (3:15.27,0).
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