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Transrockies Challenge - NE
Canada, August 8-14, 2004
Stage 6 - August 13: Bragg Creek to Rafter Six Resort
Platt & Hestler claw it back
By Paul Done
In the two stages since a Stage 3 mechanical cost them an hour and first place in the TransRockies Challenge overall standings, Team Rocky Mountain's Karl Platt and Andreas Hestler have been on maximum attack every day, trying to close the gap and reclaim the leaders' jerseys. The gap, which was as large as 39 minutes, had been reduced to just over two at the start of the 80km Stage Six from Bragg Creek to Rafter Six Ranch Resort.
"King" Karl Platt has been relentless in the pursuit of his third major marathon crown of the year, having already won the TransAlp Challenge and Cape Epic stage races. Today, however, it was Hestler's turn to drive the pace as he is finding his best form of the race in the latter stages.
The key moment of the stage, and the place where Hestler and Platt had planned to make their move is the fearsome 750m singletrack ascent of Jumpingpound Ridge Trail, which opens with a technical switchback climb that ascends 240m in just 1.1km. This classic ride features an exposed ridge traverse at 2200m with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountain front ranges. Not that you'd notice when you're on maximum attack.
The stage was decided long before Jumpingpound Ridge, though, as Neil Grover and Troy Misseghers of Team Crowsnest struggled to hold the Rocky Mountain's pace through the power-sapping mud and roots of the first singletrack section just 10km into the Stage. Having managed to get out of sight early, Hestler and Platt poured on the pressure and had a four-minute gap at the first aid station at the 26km mark. Inspired by the knowledge that they were the virtual leaders on the road, Rocky Mountain kept the pressure on and eventually crossed the finishing line in a blistering 3:42:35, thirteen minutes ahead of a spent Team Crowsnest.
There was an entirely different storyline at play in the Mixed category as Marg Fedyna of first-placed Team Lifesport rolled up to the start line bandaged and bruised, with a cracked orbital (eyesocket) bone, a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises as a result of a hard crash on a road section of the previous day's stage. She and teammate Nic Christoffersson started the day with a nearly-25 minute margin to defend, and they managed to hold on through the stage to only concede three minutes to Eric Warkentin and Louise Kobin of Team Cateye Enduro.
In the Women's race, Christina Begy and Joan Orgeldinger of Team Maverick/GoFast took their second stage win of the race, but they were unable to wrest the leaders jerseys away from Team Scott Contessa who built up an hour's lead earlier in the week with victories in four of the first five stages.
Saturday's Stage 7 is the shortest of the TransRockies, is an easier day for the riders as they ride 51km into downtown Canmore, gateway to Banff National Park and home of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games Nordic Events.
Images by Paul Done/www.sugoi.ca