Update: June 26, 8:00pm
We awoke to cloudy skies, and cool temperatures with rain in the forecast. I donned my long sleeve fleece jersey , knee warmers and wool socks expecting to be chilled by the 7 degrees and rain at the top of Kühtai – much different than the 30+ degree temps just a few days ago. After a 1200 calorie breakfast Joerg and I made our way down to the starting corrals on dry roads, and about 15 degree temperatures. I was already hot by the time I arrived, but I knew my outfit would pay off during the 20km descent off the big climb of the day.
(my photos have not been turing out very good over the last few days, so there are some photos from Matt Barlee mixed in with mine. More of his shots can be found at the Magic Places Facebook page)
At 9:00am sharp stage 1 began, and we were off through the streets of Imst. The locals were lining the narrow streets cheering everyone on as we made our way through the town. Our neutralized start lasted fro about 19km, and included constantly changing pace from fast to almost stopped throught the entire 18km. At one point the group almost came to a dead stop once we reached the dark part of a tunnel we were passing through. This happened again along a stretch of highway, and Joerg narrowly avoided a woman who’s bike fell over next to him (she came to a dead stop, and didn’t clip out). The neutralized start ended right at the base of Kühtai, so Joerg and had our work cut out trying to maneuver through a sea of 1000 cyclists taking up the entire road. We eventually found out own pace and space, and motored up that pass.
As I reached the top I was enveloped by the cold clouds that sat at the summit, and stopped to fill my water and put on my jacket for the descent. Joerg blew by the stop, and started his descent like a pro rider! The ride down was not as bad as I had been predicted and my gear selection was spot on.
I thought I would have caught Joerg on the descent, but once I reached the bottom he was still ahead. I jumped in with a group, and cruised along the flats until just prior to the next slight pitch up in the road at Innsbruck. As I began to see the road grade increase, I pulled away from the group I was with so I would be ahead on my own for the next climb. Cruising at 40km/h I approached a roundabout controlled by 5 or so police, and didn’t really let off the gas. As I negotiated the left hand turn I hit a patch of oil in the road, and went down hard on my left side. I slid all the way to the curb, and quickly got up to get out of the way of anyone behind me. Luckily, having pulled away from the group when I did, the closest riders were about 75m down the road. I dusted myself off, bent my hoods back into the proper position, checked my wheels, and gave a bow to the 50 people who witnessed the crash. As I got on my bike and continued down the road it was apparent that I had some injuries. I only had small tears in my jersey and knee warmers, so I wasn’t sure how bad they were (although I could see the blood starting to seep through the fabric). I wasn’t wearing gloves at the time of the fall, so my left hand had a nice chunk of skin rubbed off – exactly where I put pressure on my handle bars. That wound was bleeding quite a bit, but I was luck enough to see an ambulance around the next corner. The paramedics patched up my hand, and I was back on the climb.
Our team support was supposed to be at 86km (only 8k from where I crashed), but were n where to be found at 86, 87, 88…100k! I had run out of water around 87km, and finally filled up just after 100km. Luckily there was ride support at 110km and I was able to get some bananas (packed half my food in the team support van). It turned out that the van was involved in an accident (not his fault), but everyone was ok.
I finally rolled into Brixen, finishing the stage battered an bruised, but elated to have arrived to bright sunshine and big bowls of white rice, pasta & free beer! I finished with a time at 5:33, and Joerg with a time of 5:12. My time counts for the team (last one over the line) placing us at 56 in Masters (out of 175), and 169 overall (out of 475 teams). Solid finish!
I unfortunately did not take many photos today until I arrived into town, and I’ve posted some my favourites below:
Pages will be updated with photos and a recap at the end of each stage
From the organizers (translated from German):
Imst has been part of the stages several times, but never as start of the TOUR Transalp. Furthermore this year’s stage starting in Imst was never be biked in that way. Indeed, Kühtai is already a classic of the Transalp, however, for the first time the pass will be biked in the same direction as in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. From Imst the route leads flatly a few kilometers to the entrance of the Oetz Valley, where the climb to the 2.017 meter high pass starts. On the next 18 kilometers 1.250 meters of altitude difference have to be accomplished. This is certainly the most challenging part of the stage, since the profile of the climb includes several waves and temporary inclines of 10 %. The descent leads downwards until Sellrain, where a sharp turnoff to the right ends the speed ride.
Now the ride goes on at the southern slope of the Inn Valley via Axams and Mutters passing Innsbruck to finally start the climb in order to reach the Brenner. 700 meters difference in altitude spread on 35 kilometers are by far no challenge compared to the prior mastered Kühtaipass. Moreover you can roll the bike easily on the almost 40 kilometers long downhill from the Brenner via Sterzing until just before Brixen. But Attention! If their blows a strong south wind on that day, these flat downhill kilometers are more challenging than you might have thought. Another 200 meters in altitude difference have to be managed from Franzenfeste until the time measurement in Raas (just before Brixen). Now the way leads neutralized downwards until the Domplatz in the heart of Brixen. Because of the lengths and the almost 2800 meters of altitude difference this starting stage should not to be underestimated, even if the last two thirds of the stage do not include any more mean inclines.
Mountain passes: Kühtai, Brenner