The 2016 Crocodile Trophy has been a tight battle in the men’s race, and has also had until drama for the leading women. But after eight hard days of racing the Crocodile Trophy racers crossed the finish line on Four Mile Beach on Saturday 29th October. Urs Huber was the fastest man on the time trial course and the overall Elite Men’s winner 2016. With a gap of 1:48min ahead of the Belgian Sebastien Carabin he claims his fourth race title after 2009, 2010 and 2015. With Annemiek van Vleuten winning today’s stage, Alice Pirard successfully defends her overall lead on the short but challenging track from Wetherby into Port Douglas and is the Women’s Elite winner this year.
The legendary event started last Saturday in Cairns with a lap race at the Smithfield MTB Park and continued onto the Atherton Tablelands on Sunday. It was the climb onto the Atherton Tablelands and the tough undulating course of the second stage was the hardest, the riders all agreed. Three stages were raced in the Atherton MTB Park and also in the Herberton State Forest and surrounds, very technical and demanding on the riders.
From the rainforests in Cairns into the bushlands of the Tablelands and via the so iconic Outback to Skybury Coffee Plantation was next on the stage plan. The racers enjoyed two nights in the tropical Skybury estate and raced through the Mareeba Wetlands on Thursday.
Yesterday the race stopped over at Wetherby Station after a marathon stage via open Outback Highways – a fast race in glistening heat. Today the riders were in for a treat – a 30km timetrial down the infamous “Bump Track” from Wetherby Station into the holiday paradise of Port Douglas with the final finish on the beautiful Four Mile Beach.
Urs Huber wins his fourth Crocodile Trophy title
The Swiss Marathon National Champion today claimed his fourth Crocodile Trophy victory after winning before in 2009, 2010 and last year. Only one man before him has won this legendary race four times, Jaap Viergever from The Netherlands (1997, 1999, 2001 & 2002).
He said the race was a tough mind game for him this week clocking in a total of 23h52:51.6.
“The week was really tough, not physically but mentally because the gap [to Sebastien Carabin] was always really small and I had to stay concentrated for the whole week. I couldn’t make any mistakes – I could manage that really well and so, the win is here.”
He complimented his biggest opponent Sebastien Carabin as being equally as strong. “We both were very strong. He just had one bad day and I didn’t. And in the end, that was the difference.”
The “bad day” was stage two from Cairns to Atherton, which pushed most of the riders to their absolute limits. A long stage in very hot and particularly humid conditions, so hard that even a world-class rider like Sebastien Carabin suffered and ultimately cost him too much time.
Overall, only 1:48 minutes separated the top two finishers of the 2016 event with Huber taking today’s stage in 52:59.3 with a gap of five seconds to second-placed Carabin.
With an incredible performance in today’s time trial the Belgian Michiel van Aelbroeck defended his third position overall and has a gap of 1h05 to Huber. The 40-year old Dutch racer Bas Peters took out fourth (+1h11:05.4) and the Austrian Matthias Pliem came in fifth (+1h16:29.0).
Alice Pirard wins the Women’s Trophy
The Belgian Marathon National Champion finishes her 2016 season with a win at the Crocodile Trophy, her second appearance at the legendary stage race. With strong performances all week she dominated the technical stages and the dark horse, but well-known rider, in the field Annemiek van Vleuten was a strong opponent. The Dutch Olympic road racer had claimed to “race the Crocodile Trophy as a holiday”, but half-way through the week caught the racing bug on the flat and less-technical stages.
Twice riddled with bad luck by missing turns and loosing a lot of time, Annemiek van Vleuten still claimed three stage wins and was the fastest woman in today’s time trial with 1h03:45.6.
Overall the women’s result has Alice Pirard finishing with 30h34:45.0 ahead of van Vleuten (+44:15) and the Australian road racer Ruth Corset (+1h06:27).
The marathon specialist Sarah Kaehler from Cairns came in fourth (+5h39:57).
For detailed race results, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com
For Michiel van Aelbrock and Alice Pirard, it wasn’t their first visit to Tropical North Queensland
Michiel said “It’s really great, it’s amazing that I could go back and ride the last kilometre with Alice. It was beautiful.”
Alice remarked “It’s just unforgettable this moment, it’s so great. I’m happy that Michiel did so well also.”
“It’s better to enjoy the event together and not ride it as a team. Because if you ride it as a team then it’s really hard to remain good partners,” said van Aelbrock.
“I agree,” Pirard confirmed. “So far we haven’t tried to ride in a pair as yet. It’s just great to ride solo and live together in the camp and eat together and chilling.”
TOP RESULTS ELITE STAGE 8:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 0h52:59.3
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 0h53:04.7 +0:05
3. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 0h55:13.2 +2:13
4. #2 Matthias Grick (KTM Ebner Transporte Cycling Team Graz) / AUT / 0h56:01.5 +3:02
5. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 0h56:05.6 +3:06
1. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 1h03:45.6
2. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 1h05:30.1 +1:44
3. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 1h09:57.0 +6:11
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 1h17:38.3 +13:52
OVERALL RESULTS AFTER 8 STAGES:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 23h52:51.6
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 23h54:39.6 +1:48
3. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 24h58:44.0 +1h05:52.4
4. #3 Bas PETERS (MijnBadLiv/Giant offroad team) / NED / 25h03:57.0 +1h11:05.4
5. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 25h09:20.6 +1h16:29.0
1. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 30h34:45.0
2. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 31h19:00.2 +44:15
3. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 31h41:12.4 +1h06:27
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 36h14:41.7 +5h39:57
Further category and leader jersey winners:
Amateur & A3 category winner men: Daniel Beresford (AUS / Croc For Kids) in 28h21:38.2
Fastest Australian & A2 winner: Lincoln Carolan (AUS / Astute Financial Racing Team) in 28h38:23.4
A4 category winner men: Garry James (AUS / Specialized Australia) 29h39:09.8
A1 category winner men: Blake Coppo (AUS / Corry Cycles ACE rACEing) in 32h59:30.0
Amateur women: Anita Narula (AUS / Liv Cycling) in 34h00:52.0