The overall race leader Urs Huber won his sixth stage at the 21st Crocodile Trophy at Wetherby Station ahead of Denmark’s Soren Nissen, Nicholas Pettina, Brendan Johnston and Ondrej Fojtik. Elite female Sarah White and amateur woman Kristin Endres rode together, still in the overall lead of their respective categories.
The penultimate stage of the Crocodile Trophy dished up a 101km marathon for the international rider field in Tropical North Queensland. It took the riders from the Skybury Coffee Plantation via undulating terrain to Wetherby Cattle Station, just up on the escarpment from tomorrow’s final stage destination in Port Douglas.
The overall race leader from Switzerland, Urs Huber, had said that he felt he had worked up quite a secure lead but today didn’t leave anything to chance. Again a lead group formed with the so familiar, colourful jerseys of the top elites and Huber was able to break away from them on a fast descent ahead of the last feed zone with about 15km to go.
In 3h24:59.7 he took out stage eight with a gap of 49.9 seconds to overall runner-up Soren Nissen (DEN) and the Italian Nicholas Pettina (+2:29.2 min). Brendan Johnston (AUS) came in fourth (+7:52.7 min) and the Czech rider Ondrej Fojtik in fifth (+9:01.5 min).
Soren Nissen said that he crashed on the descent and lost Huber’s wheel and that he wasn’t able to catch up to the strong rider from Switzerland any more.
Brendan Johnston, who is expected to take third overall and the leader jersey for the best Australian finisher across the line in Port Douglas, commented on the strong European racers, saying that it had been an interesting and exciting experience to race and place well in such a high-profile field of athletes at this year’s event.
Last year’s Crocodile Trophy Champion, Greg Saw, also complimented the top riders in the field, “The quality of riders is very impressive at this year’s event, I tried very hard to crack into the top five and a lingering gastritis didn’t help.”
Huber’s third Crocodile Trophy race win imminent
Tomorrow’s final stage will be a time trial, with riders starting from 10am in reverse order of the overall classification. Urs Huber will be the last rider to be released onto the final stage, which will take him and his fellow 2015 Crocodile Trophy racers down the infamous Bump Track – the first 15km will be raced on historic gold rush trails and then it will be a spectacular rainforest descent into Port Douglas. The descent through very dense rainforest is steep and packed with loose rocks and water bars and will present the final challenge in this legendary nine-day stage race.
Wetherby Station tonight, finish in Port Douglas tomorrow
By about midday tomorrow, the racers will have completed more than 700km and 17000m of elevation over the nine days, starting in the jungle in and around Cairns, then racing the Atherton MTB Park and rainforest surrounds. For stage 5 and 6 the Crocodile Trophy raced in the bushlands, mining country and the Outback in the Irvinebank region before arriving at the tropical Skybury Coffee Plantation yesterday. Tonight they are setting up camp at the historic Wetherby Cattle Station.
For the second time in its history, the race will finish on Four Mile Beach, a tropical holiday paradise. The final kilometres will be raced on the sandy beach, right on the water, towards the finish, which will be located at the Surf Life Saving Club in Port Douglas. First finishers are expected to arrive from 11:30am, including elite female Sarah White; elite men around midday.
STAGE 8: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 3h24:59.7
2. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 3h25:49.6 +49.9 sec
3. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 3h27:28.9 +2:29.2 min
4. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 3h32:52.4 +7:52.7 min
5. Ondrej Fojtik (CZE) #17 // FORCE KCK – Progress Cycles // 3h34:01.2 +9:01.5 min
STAGE 8: TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 4h31:32.9
OVERALL: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 25h38:16
2. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 25h55:55 17:39
3. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 26h17:14 38:58
4. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 26h28:00 49:44
5. Lukas Islitzer (AUT) #20 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 26h40:37 1h02:21
OVERALL TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 35h43:00
Further solo category leaders:
A Women: Kristin Endres (GER) #107 // lakatexpress.de // 37h03:08
A1 Men (U30): Evert Feyaerts (BEL) #30 // 32h12:11
A2 Men (30+): Christian Leschke (GER) #49 // Team Leschi // 29h26:52
A3 Men (40+): Bart Duraj (AUS) #61 // Astute Financial Racing // 29h58:16
A4 Men (50+): Garry James (AUS) #97 // Corry Cycles ACE Racing/Specialised // 30h55:45