The most prestigious MTB race, the Transalp, is currently taking place in the Alps. The 3 Topeak-Ergon athletes Alban Lakata, Robert Mennen and Sally Bigham are all fighting for overall victory on Canyon bikes.
The 15th instalment of the Craft Bike Transalp, one of the toughest mountain bike stage races, has been up and running since 14th July. The 8-stage race runs right across the Alps from Oberammergau in Bavaria to Riva on Lake Garda in Italy over 618 km and 21166 meters of elevation. Alban Lakata, Robert Mennen and Sally Bigham from the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team and of course Canyon are all in on the action.
At the start of the event the favourites from Topeak-Ergon Racing Team Lakata and Mennen didn’t have luck on their side on the opening 96 km stage from Oberammergau to Imst, losing over 13 minutes due to a technical defect. At the end of the stage the pair was back in 8th overall some 10 minutes down on the leaders.
On stage 2, however, the duo let their rivals know that they hadn’t given up on the overall victory. On the stage from Imst to Ischgl the duo from the Koblenz-based racing team finished two minutes up on the leading duo.
Stage 3 from Ischgl to Nauders also went to the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team. Thus, Robert and Alban were able to celebrate their second stage win on the bounce on their Grand Canyon CF SLX 29 and eat up a further 50 seconds from the advantage of the leading duo.
The 53 km stage from Nauders to Scuol was again a stage where the two riders were able to impress. They won their 3rd stage in a row in a time of 2:15:17.2. Lakata and Mennen were now only around 3 minutes down on leaders Kaufmann/Stoll. On the second climb up the Reschner Alm Lakata and Mennen forced the pace. “We saw that the others were having problems and decided to have a go at them”, said Mennen at the finish. Lakata was also pleased. “Nobody expected that we could claw back so much time on today’s stage. Everything is going well right now and if it stays that way, we can still pick up first place”.
On stage 5 a 4th victory in succession for the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team put even more pressure on the Transalp leaders. Lakata and Mennen won the 69km stage from Scuol in Switzerland to Livigno in Italy in a time of 3:11:15.7. The deficit to the yellow jersey team of Markus Kaufmann and Thomas Stoll was reduced by a further 2 minutes.
The Queen’s stage on Thursday brought the crucial turn in the race and gave Robert and Alban the yellow jersey following a splendid performance. The 106 km stage with 3400 meters of elevation and temperatures of over 30 degrees was the toughest in this year’s Transalp. The top duo from Topeak-Ergon Racing Team had to apply maximum concentration to recover their deficit to the leaders and also to avoid crashing on the downhill stretches. Lakata said after capturing the yellow jersey, “At the moment everything is going great. Now we have a lead of some 28 seconds and we have a couple of shorter stages ahead of us so it’s looking quite good for the overall win”.
In the ladies event Sally Bigham and teammate Milena Landtwing from Team Vaude Centurion won their 6th stage on the trot and are heading for a comfortable victory. The British born rider Bigham and her Swiss side-kick just keep on winning like clockwork! In the general classification Sally and Milena now have a lead of more than 3 hours and can therefore simply potter along and enjoy the views on the remaining 2 stages.
Stage 7 is now underway over 73 km and 3248 meters of elevation from Ponte di Legno to Madonna die Campiglio. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for Alban, Robert, Sally and Milena that they can defend their positions as race leaders and arrive in yellow and pink tomorrow in Riva on Lake Garda.
The seventh stage from the Ponte di Legno to Madonna di Campiglio, the defending champions from Team Stöckli were able to decide for themselves. Alban and Robert came in about 2 minutes later to finish in second place and thus increased their lead to 4:18 minutes to their nearest pursuers.
Milena Landtwing and Sally Bigham continued to ride in a league of their own and also finished the seventh stage on top of the podium.
On stage eight Robert and Alban came in second again and won the general classification of the Transalp 2012. The guys needed a total of 27:35:17:5 hours from Oberammergau/Germany to Lake Garda/Italy on their new Grand Canyon CF SLX 29.
“A win at the Transalp belongs in the Palmares of any good marathon rider. Now it is on mine as well. I am on cloud nine that we were able to achieve this”, said Alban Lakata, who currently is in the form of his life.
Team-mate Robert Mennen was very excited, especially since this has been the German Vice-Champion’s first participation in the Transalp: “I would not have dreamed of this before the start of this eason. The fact that it worked out now is just amazing!”
In the Women classification nobody was able to get the better of Sally Bigham and Milena Landtwing. With a time of 33:18:54.2 hours and 8 stage wins in a row the two ladies rushed to Riva in an impressive manner as the undisputed winners of the general classification.