Posted by Editoress on 09/26/19
Defending champions Georg Egger and Maximilian Brandl won Stage 1 of Epic Israel, with Sofia Gomez-Villafañe and Rose Grant taking control of the women’s GC with a strong chase of their rivals in the closing kilometres.
Clear, sunny and warm weather greeted the riders at the start of Stage 1, beginning on a 3km neutralised start towards Nahat Gaaton. When the flag dropped, 4km of rolling climbs on narrow paths, strewn with rocks of all sizes, greeted the riders as the large start group eventually dwindled to a number of smaller fragments.
With the pace at the front being set by the international men's UCI riders, Egger / Brandl (Ger), Markt / Raggl (Aut), Swenson / Finsterwald (USA), Gluth / Giger (Ger/ Sui), and L'Esperance / Disera (Can), to the top of the climb into the Goren National Park, only the strongest remained as the first feed zone was met at 24km.
From there, the track continued east in a series of rugged trails that climbed steadily towards the highest point of the Stage. This road proved challenging, but it established a leading women's group here with Smith / Pendrel (CAN), Loïv / Steinburg (Est), Gomez-Villafañe / Grant (Arg / USA), and Woodruff / Huck (USA) all present and in a position to challenge for the stage win.
In the men's field, a flatter section of agricultural paths took the leading trio in a fast flight towards the competition village. However, 5km from the finish line Egger, with teammate Brandl in tow, went on an attack that lasted until the finish, crossing the finish line in 3:52:47. A 12-second gap followed to the chasing Markt / Raggl team, with Swenson / Finsterwald two seconds further back.
In the top women's trio, drama was also to unfold 5km from the finish line, with Gomez Villafane / Grant managing to overtake the Smith / Pendrel leading pair after an extended chase to cross the finish line in 4:39:25, with a 10-second gap to the Canadians in second place. Third place went to Loïv / Steinburg in 4:41:47.
Stage 1 Results:
1 Georg Egger / Maximilian Brandl (Ger) Lexware MTB Team, 3:52:47
2 Karl Markt / Gregor Raggl (Aut) Team Austria, at 0:12
3.Keegan Swenson / Russell Finsterwald (USA) Team USA, 0:14
9 Andrew L'Esperance/ Peter Disera (Can) Norco Factory Team, 4:17
1 Sofia Gomez-Villfañe / Rose Grant (Arg / USA) Stan;s Pivot, 4:39:25
2 Hayley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (Can) Norco Factory Team, at 1:11
3 Janika Loïv / Greete Steinberg (Est) Estonian National MTB Team, 2:22
1.Georg Egger / Max Brandl (Ger) Lexware MTB Team, 4:29:56
2 Karl Markt / Gregor Raggl (Aut) Team Austria, at 2:25
3 Keegan Swenson / Russell Finsterwald (USA) Team USA, 3:01
1 Sofia Gomez Villfane / Rose Grant (Arg / USA) 5:24:23
2 Hayley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (Can) Norco Factory Team, at 2:07
3 Chloe Woodruff / Erin Huck (USA) Team USA, 3:39
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