The second-last stage of the Crocodile Trophy took the riders further north and towards the coast to Wetherby Cattle Station where Urs Huber won another stage in a sprint finish ahead of Sebastien Carabin. Annemiek van Vleuten claimed her third stage win as eighth outright ahead of Ruth Corset and Alice Pirard. New amateur leader is Juergen de Witte (BEL); Daniel Beresford will go into the final stage as the fastest Australian.
Today’s stage lead the riders via open fire roads towards the rainforest and the coast, ever so close to the finish in Port Douglas tomorrow. A dusty bunch of riders arrived at Wetherby Station, Australia’s oldest cattle station, which offers an authentic Outback experience on last time before the beach finish ahead.
It was a hot day today and riders spoke of the beautiful views and scenery as the raced through the thick rainforests of Kuranda and Mowbray National Parks.
Tomorrow’s final stage will be a time trial from Wetherby Station to Four Mile Beach via the infamous Bump Track, a rough downhill track down the escarpment into the tropical holiday paradise of Port Douglas. The finish will be right where two World Heritage sites, the oldest Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, promising a spectacular finish to the 2016 Crocodile Trophy event.
From 10 am, riders will start in reverse order from the General Classification; race leader Urs Huber will be the last racer released onto the stage eight track. The first finishers will be expected across the line on Four Mile Beach near the Surf Life Saving Club in Port Douglas from 11 am with the race winners arriving from 11:30 am. The winners celebration will be held on Four Mile Beach at 2 pm.
From the bunch
“Second behind Urs is a good result, I’m close to him – he’s such a strong rider and famous in the cross-country world. To be not far off from him is good,” said Carabin. “I’ve been happy with my performance all week, except the second stage, where I was a little tired the last 10 kilometres. Without it would all have been a bit different … but after that everything was ok. If you’re off your game for one day, it’s enough… with a strong man like Urs. Urs is never tired – the first part of each stage is not a problem for me, because I know I can stay with him, but the second half of each stage I know that I might have a moment of weakness, but not him. It means that I’m not as confident as him, but I’m feeling good about tomorrow’s last stage.”
“I was able to control the race all day, I knew that most of the stage was going to be raced on wide open roads. We had a good group of six riders and worked together well. At the end Sebastien attacked two or three times, but I was able to stay with him every time and then it ended in a sprint finish between the two of us. I knew the arrival from last year and was able to pass him at the right moment,” explained Huber. “I have a good lead for tomorrow, that’s why I’m calm ahead of tomorrow’s final stage. I hope that I won’t have any mechanicals and then it should all work out tomorrow.”
“Today was wonderful, I really enjoyed the stage. I’m here to see some of Australia and today we had a lot of nice views. But I saw a lot of my front wheel because I suffered a lot today,” women’s winner van Vleuten said. “I surprised myself a little bit this week – at first I came here starting the race for a holiday, but half-way through I suddenly got into the race mode. On the not-so-technical stages I felt really well and I enjoy to race hard and also with the guys here, it’s really wonderful to race together. It’s been super-difficult to adapt to the conditions here. I’m really not a mountain biker, so I’m also very careful, because I want to start my season in January with the Tour Down Under without injuries on the road, so I’m here to take it easy on the technical and dangerous parts and ride fast on the other parts. I actually did get clearance from my Orica AIS team to do this race – at first they said I’m crazy to do this in my holidays. But I told them that I want to see more of Australia this way and they were really ok with it. Actually, I almost convinced my team director to compete also, well, maybe next year!”
Ruth Corset has been a little slower to come around to the race, but she’s almost sorry it’s just about over.
“To be honest, on day two I thought this is crazy, I’ll never do this again, but you know what, now, I’ve really enjoyed the last few days, I think, possibly I might come back.”
1.#11Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 22h59:52.3
2.#1Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL /23h01:34.9+1:42.6
3.#4Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be)/ BEL / 24h03:30.8+1h03:38.5
4.#3Bas PETERS (MijnBadLiv/Giant offroad team) / NED / 24h07:41.8+1h07:49.5
5.#10Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE)/ AUT / 24h13:15.0+1h13:22.7
1.#21Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 29h24:48.0|
2.#22Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED /30h15:14.6+50:26.6
3.#25Ruth CORSET / AUS / 30h35:42.3+1h10:54.3
4.#23Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 34h57:03.4+5h32:15.4
Further leader jerseys:
Amateur leader jersey men: Juergen de Witte (BEL / CIBEL – CEBON)
Amateur leader jersey women: Anita Narula (AUS / Liv Cycling)
Australia leader jersey: Daniel Beresford (AUS / Croc for Kids)