Seledkov and Wielinga Storm to Stage Win
The second stage of the TOUR Transalp 2018 led from St. Vigil over 131.72 km and 2,697 metres of climbing and around the famous Drei Zinnen – those three distinctive battlement-like peaks located in the Sexten Dolomites – to Sillian in Austria and offered pure drama on the course and in the overall classification.
Ivan Seledkov (RUS) and Remmert Wielinga (NED) rewarded themselves after a long solo run for their gladiatorial performance with the stage win (3:52.19,8) while Daniel Pechtl (AUT) and Thomas Gschnitzer (ITA), who wrapped up the day in fifth place (3:56.55,5), benefitted from the collapse of strength of so far leading cyclists Michael Spoegler (ITA) and Michael Markolf (GER) taking over the Yellow Jerseys.
Right after the start of the race when the participants left the town of St. Vigil, it became obvious that the field would have an uneasy day in the office as Wielinga directly attacked in the first climb to the Furkel Pass and was able to distance himself from the rest quickly.
The former Rabobank pro, who won the Dutch time trial championships in 1999 and 2000, therefore followed the same tactics as yesterday. But while the 40-year-old had slipped away on gravel yesterday following his successful breakaway attempt, things worked out more to his favour today.
"I expected my teammate to catch up with me during the race. But I was surprised that he managed to do so after crossing the Misurina saddle and before the climb to Passo Sant' Antonio," said Wielinga, who has been supporting his much younger Russian team mate from Serpantin-Panavto as a coach for just a couple of months now.
Together, the duo then managed to keep up the pace to the intermediate at the summit of Passo Sant' Antonio and also further on to Kreuzberg Pass temporarily being more than 6:30 minutes in front until they lost a bit of time again due to a detour right before the finish.
But in the end, the satisfaction of having made up ground on the top of the field coming in with the advantage of about five minutes outweighed the disappointment of losing some time on the last metres. "We had strong legs. Our goal is still the title, even though I haven't known my teammate for that long," said Wielinga, who together with Seledkov, now sits in fourth of the overall ranking (+ 5.26 min), which is led by Daniel Pechtl and Thomas Gschnitzer (6:51.39,4).
Last year's runner-ups racing for Team Plasmatreat-Storck Bicycle 1 crossed the finish line in a group of eight today ranking fifth behind Germans Marco Koenig and Lukas Baum of Easton Cycling Team (3:56.54,5), title defenders from Belgium Frederic Glorieux and Bob Michels of Tauris-Grinta! (3:56.55,2) and Germans Florian Vrecko and Nils Kessler of Team Strassacker / Garmin (3:56.55,4).
The four teams only joined forces to catch up in the last of the four climbs, after each of them had more or less to fight through some struggles over the course of the day.
"Sitting now in first overall, we have achieved one goal. It's the first time we have earned the Yellow Jerseys - and it's only our second participation", Pechtl stated in the finish area. However, the Tyrolean together with his comrade-in-arms from South Tyrol is only 0.7 seconds ahead of last year's winners from Belgium.
And even though yesterday's successful pairing Team corratec 1 experienced a day to forget, Michael Markolf (GER) and Michael Spoegler (ITA) should not be written off yet. "I felt really good in the climb to Passo Sant' Antonio, and then suddenly the hammer dropped. I was able to make it to the finish, but we lost a lot of time. But the Transalp isn't over yet", said the tall South Tyrolean Spoegler.
Kiesenhofer As Strong As An Ox
While the so far leading men team had to admit a bitter defeat, everything went as planned for the top duos of the other categories. Especially the Austrian mixed pairing Anna Kiesenhofer and Guenther Flatscher stood out as overall twelfth of the second stage (4:09.41,3).
The female protagonist of Team Bikeexpress, the strongest woman in the field, received quite some props from the men for her impressive performance. A compliment the 27-year-old wanted to pass on immediately: "I'm not racing alone, but with my colleague Guenther. I'm not the only pushing it, he also helps me a lot. He does a lot of work in front and also catapults me up the hill every now and then. This gives us the chance to ride with stronger teams which is key to success."
However, the former triathlete and first-timer at the TOUR Transalp, who has only been concentrating on road biking since 2016, expects a lot more: "We were not at the limit today. I'm more of an endurance athlete, I felt better today than yesterday. If nothing comes up, you can trust that this diesel engine will keep on running."
The same is likely to happen for the other category leaders after the so far best teams did make it two out of two today.
In the masters category, Canadians Jamie Armstrong and Geoff Dyke of TNA-Method won again (4:11.26,5) crossing the finish line together with the victorious grand masters from Austria, Guenter Baringer and Axel Strauss of Roadbiker.at & Bike city (4:11.24,4).
Linda Stuurman and Carla Mellema of Dutch Express (4:48.30,1) dominated the women's classification again.
Bad Luck For Triathletes
The most prominent participants of this year's TOUR Transalp were among today's unlucky birds. While former IRONMAN winners Faris Al-Sultan (GER) and Thomas Hellriegel (GER) came in third of the masters category yesterday, they lost a lot of time today due to serious damage to the rear wheel of Al-Sultan.
With a deficit of 40 minutes the duo Alte Tribaeren crossed the finish line as 26th of their class and are now sitting on a disappointing 16th rank in the masters category.
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