With their official registration for the 20th BIKE Transalp powered by Sigma a few days ago, one thing has become crystal clear: the main favourites for the win in the women category are Esther Suess (SUI) and Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) who are set about securing another 2017 stage race title after triumphing in the Cape Epic earlier this season.
It is mainly due to the fact that the 43-years-old model athlete from Switzerland is more and more turning her back on the cross country events which opened her new time windows for marathons and to finally entering the myth-enshrouded race across the main chain of the Alps again:
“Over the past years, the BIKE Transalp didn’t fit to my travel itineraries. And now, going back more to long distance races, it finally works out again. It’s something special that it’s of all things the 20th edition of the event. I’m looking forward to it and am hoping for a nice and thrilling Transalp.”
The Transalp (c) Robert Niedring/Craft BIKE Transalp
Suess had already been aiming for her third start in the legendary classic last year but didn’t get permission from her former squad.
Now, a few months later and without a pro team contract, the 2010 XCM World Champion is finally free to go for another win in the women’s category like 2005.
Twelve years ago, in her first year as a licensed racer, the Kuettigen resident had triumphed together with Anna Enocsson (SWE) after her first appearance with her mixed partner Joe Broder (SUI) didn’t go as expected coming to an early end on the second day already.
Suess stays tight in the berm on the exit of the Croc Slide at the Cairns World Cup.
However, despite a long Transalp break, the multiple Swiss Champion has still a huge set of skills to go all in over several days. The fifth ranked athlete of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games lived up to the expectations of being the main aspirant for the Cape Epic by winning the women title together with South African based Swedish rider Jennie Stenerhag, who actually is a Transalp rookie.
Jennie Stenerhag in action during the Prologue of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Mark Sampson/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
Some four months later, both 40-some mountain bikers are aiming for a similar result on the seven stages from Mayrhofen (AUT) to Riva del Garda (ITA).
“Of course, we are competing to win the Transalp. But I have no idea who is also racing the event; in addition, a lot of things can happen in one week,” confirms Suess.