Alban slows up – JB shines in his place

Alban slows up – JB shines in his place

A short-term change in partners, a bent pedal and a small piece of bad luck. After the first stage from Mayerhofen (AUT) to Brixen (ITA), from the perspective of the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team, there was certainly something to report from the start of the 20th Bike Transalp. The "new" pairing of Kristian Hynek and Jeremiah Bishop (JB) occupy second place.

Hynek and Bishop? Correct. The Czech and the American will be the first pairing of the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team at the Transalp 2017. World champion Alban Lakata had to take his foot of the gas on Saturday. The effects of his training accident were too serious. The painful bruised ribs did not allow him to sleep well for two weeks afterwards and the injury slowed him down too much, especially in downhill passages. "Sure, it was hard for me to make this decision, but I have to say I'm happy after the first stage, that I do not have to fight in front", Alban explained after the first stage, in which Erik Kleinhans put in an excellent eighth place. Alban felt the pain mainly in the downhill and in the rough terrain. "And", he added, "this is now an opportunity for JB."

That "JB" used his chance as a replacement on the first stage and dazzled. On the 105 kilometers from Mayrhofen to Brixen, Jeremiah Bishop and Kristian Hynek were able to compete with the reigning champion pairing of Daniel Geismayr / Herman Pernsteiner. They were the only pair to offer the two Austrians a fight on the second climb. However two kilometers before the finish, trouble came. Pernsteiner and Bishop had a small collision. For the Topeak-Ergon rider, a bent pedal. Still, he and Kristian held up. But it got even worse – one kilometer before the finish, Kristian and JB missed a turn-off and all chances of a sensational stage victory were gone. They had to quickly turn around and climb a hill, but the connection to the lead was lost.

"A pity, otherwise there would have been a sprint finish," Kristian regretted, but at the same time showed the great performance of Jeremiah Bishop. "It was, of course, disappointing for me to start without Alban. But JB was great today. Certainly, it is too early to derive anything from the overall evaluation, but it is definitely a very good signal," said the World Cup bronze medalist from 2016. Only 24 seconds were lost on Geismayr and Pernsteiner, however the TERT duo maintained a considerable gap of 2:45 minutes to stay in front of the three time winners Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käß, as well as 4:38 in front of fellow favorites Karl Platt and Urs Huber.

544 kilometers and 17,978 heights are on the agenda at the annual Transalp, befor it ends on Saturday, July 22nd in Riva del Garda. The longest day is already behind the riders. Today, on the second leg, it went over 63 kilometers from Bressanone to St. Vigil (Italy). 2,688 meters of altitude are quite a task over this distance and our team had bad luck with a blowout and finished sixth, but still ranked third overall. Team 2 was seventh today.