October 24/10 19:24 pm - Crocodile Trophy: Stage 5 and 6
Posted by Editoress on 10/24/10
Stage 5: Chillagoe to Chillagoe, 100km
Double-victory for Austria
Completely by surprise, Christoph Tschellnig claimed a Boomerang for Austria. Today's second, Philipp Ludescher, completed the successful day for his home country. Canadian Cory Wallace returned to his well-deserved third spot after two days of bad luck and mechanicals.
It's half time at the hardest mountain bike race in the world and to reward the riders for the efforts to far, the easiest stage was scheduled for today: 100 relatively flat kilometres with start and finish in Chillagoe, to be completed by riding a 50km fire trail into one direction and then back. But to compensate for the "easy dash into the bush“, the riders faced a fierce head wind on their way back, and temperatures climbed to a cosy 36 degrees.
With the overall leaders being busy observing and minding each other's every move, the opportunity for a new stage winner was there to be taken . To everyone's surprise that one didn't come from the camp of the favourite group of elite road riders. Weekend warrior Christoph Tschellnig (morethanbike) from Lower Austria, who has a full-time job as fitness trainer back home, took the title.
"I blame the three pieces of fish that I had for dinner last night“, joked the 25-year old past the finish line. Up until three years ago a dedicated road rider, the now passionate mountain biker called his attack already at kilometre 20 – and was not to be seen any more. Five minutes lead at the turnaround point were enough to withstand Ludescher's attack later on. "It's a shame that I wasn't able to chase him down any more. But it's still great that an Austrian took the stage“, said the McSabotage-team racer in a sporting manner after assessing his opponent wrongly.
Tschellnig had reached the finish at Chillagoe after 3:11.26 completely exhausted, however, happy about his 2.20 minute lead. "To be honest, it was my goal to get a top-3 stage result at least once. After I had three flat tires already on the first day, I was aiming for a Boomerang to compensate for the fluff in the general classification. That this dream has come true is just awesome!“
Covered in red sand and sweat, finally, also Cory Wallace was able to smile again. Due to a series of mechanical failures he had lost his spot among the top three and after a strong race returned to his well-deserved third place. “I'm not a threat any more for them in the general classification, so Urs and Bart let me have a go. Let's see if I can ride home some more points in the coming days”, said the Kona-rider who hasn't given up his ambitions just yet, despite all the troubles so far.
Oldies, but goldies
In the masters categories, in the meantime, the tires are smoking. The lead of both Jaan Kirsipuu (M1) and Hans Dielacher (M3) is quite a comfortable one with about 45 minutes each. But the Estonian and Austro-Australian, who has been living on the Gold Coast for more than 31 years, give it all again and again every day. “I always thought that I'd be too old for this race. However, when I became second at the Transalp last year, I reconsidered it”, grins the 55-year old, who currently hold the outstanding 9th place in the overall classification. “No I hope that I can keep this result across the final finish line at Cape Tribulation”, the rider who calls Australia home added.
Clearly much closer is the progress result in the M1 category: Whilst the Belgian rider Raf de Bakker was able to set a lead of 7 minutes in the early mountain stages, his fellow Belgian Cristof Mariën is on his wheel, chasing him even more fiercely the flatter the stages become. “Let's see, maybe I'll be able to catch up to Raf over the next few days”, said the category winner of the last three days.
Of the originally 79 participants, today 67 riders started the stage. Among them, side by side with several podium and elite racers, also the one or the other hero of the Croc Trophy bunch: Like Lesley Sutton, single-mum and not a mountain biker in her wildest dreams just a year ago, who is now fourth in the female overall classification. The Australian rider, who has been accompanied by her little daughter at this event, had participated for fun at the Triple A MTB Race from Mount Mollow to Port Douglas in 2009, only to win her Crocodile ticket at the raffle there. “I didn't even know what the Crocodile Trophy was then”, the 34-year old laughs. Or Peter Clayton, the Sydney-rider from Dee Why who continued his race yesterday with a broken thumb, after having it X-rayed and plastered at the local hospital. Then there is the all-female SheSpokes Cycle Wear, who have been riding very consistently over the past five days. “It's a very friendly and amicable atmosphere out there and it feels like the male riders really respect us girls for riding the stages just like them”, says Sharman Parr who says she rode 1600km in the final week of her training for the Crocodile Trophy. However, when asked what the one thing was that a women needed to complete this race she grins, “A good pair of cycling knicks and loads of chamois cream!”
Stage 5 results
Stage 5 GC
Neutralised Stage 6
Chillagoe to Mt Mulgrave, 124km
Trophy in mourning
Due to a tragic fatality the sixth stage of the Crocodile Trophy was called off and today's stage neutralised with the field of riders being guided to Mt Mulgrave.
At six o'clock this morning the organisers and riders woke up to the terrible news that the Dutch rider Weit Heuker had passed away during the night from 23rd to 24th October. The 59-year old suffered from cardiovascular and circulatory failure and the doctors who had been called immediately could only diagnose his death.
“We learned this morning – unfortunately only now – that Weit Heuker already had suffered a cardiac arrest a few years ago and had been under medical care since then”, explained the head of the medical support team of the Crocodile Trophy Dr. Alexandra Reimann.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and team mates”, said event organiser Gerhard Schönbacher.
Today's stage was cancelled out of respect for the deceased rider. After a minute of silence together, the participants were guided in a neutral ride along the main road from Chillagoe to Mt Mulgrave, from where the stage race will continue tomorrow morning.