Posted by Editoress on 10/21/10
Stage 3: New face on the podium
Wallace drops to 4th overall after 2 punctures
On today's and probably hardest stage of this year's Crocodile Trophy the Belgian rider Mike Mulkens rode straight back onto the podium and his rightful place. Last year's third finisher achieved his first podium of this year's race on the difficult and demanding track from Granite Gorge to Irvinebank and thus can also claim the overall third rank behind titleholder Urs Huber (SUI) and today's stage winner Bart Brentjens (NL). Behind the leading trio the “royal stage” of the Croc brought clouds, bad luck and kangaroo-collisions.
Only the sun was kind – all day it hid behind a thick cloud cover. The Croc's organisers on the other hand showed not as much compassion and sent the race participants onto the stage, which was described as the “hardest one of this year's Croc Trophy” by event director Gerhard Schoenbacher himself: 144km, 1600m of elevation, most parts of it being “really rough”.
In a country where the most corrugated and rutted gravel road is called a “sealed road”, the riders found out early in the race what this track description really means: steep ascents, rutted descents, slippery gravel, rough rocks. On sandy trails and past humongous termite mounts the athletes were able to get up close with the real Aussie outback and whilst the rider briefing promised gravel and asphalt roads to recover half-way through, the accompanying tablelands proved to be a mean attacking area for the stormy headwind. It was not surprising that the two top-favourites Urs Huber and Bart Brentjens were able to cope well with those conditions after their performance during the first two stages. The Dutch rider even managed to catch up with the leading group after a flat tire and to finish with 5:18.34 as the day' stage winner and with one second on the overall leader Huber.
It surprised many, including the Belgian himself, that last year's third, Mike Mulkens, was able to keep up with the two top riders over long stretches of the stage and that he came across the finish line with an equally impressive lead of more than half an hour (!) over his pursuers. “I am more than happy with today's result. The first two days were not bad, but still, in a way everyone expected a third place from me. Now I have it – and I'll defend it with all my might”, says the 30-year old of the days ahead. It worked in his favour that the Canadian Cory Wallace (right), who had been third before today's stage, was thwarted by two tire punctures.
Without any mechanical failures and troubles, Abby McLennan arrived at the historic gold mining town of Irvinebank and thus secured her third stage win. “Every single metre was hard today, even the flat sections, because the head wind almost blew me off my bike. I'm very relieved to finally be here”, said the Australian.
Imagine, you are riding your bike... and then you're tackled by a kangaroo. No kidding – this happened to the Austrian rider Rene Haselbacher. Riding in a bunch with the fastest Croc-Australian Taigh Banson and the Estonians Jaan Kirsipuu and Allan Oras, the elite road racer was hit by a fleeing marsupial that almost brought him to a nasty fall. “It was just unbelievable! It just jumped straight through our group and suddenly both I and the kangaroo were spectacularly spun through the air”, a still stunned Haselbacher lived to tell the tale. Eye witness Jaan Kirsipuu in turn was struggling after the unexpected encounter with the kangaroo. “I had trouble staying on my bike, because I had to laugh so much”, grinned the eleven-fold Estonian champion.
Other Crocodile Trophy racers, however, didn't have as much fun out there today. Most sections of today's track were riddled with sharp rocks, which were responsible for countless mechanicals.
The two Austrians Christopher Sokoll and Christoph Ludescher were particularly unlucky. Dropping far back because of three flat tires each, at the fourth tire failure it was hard to know what to do. “One of the Australian riders recommended that we use an Aussie dollar bill to fix the side walls”, Ludescher recounts how they successfully pulled one out of their bag of tricks. However, the fixed tire didn't withstand the strains of the rough terrain. Luckily, Lauretta Howarth, overall female second, donated them a spare tube and saved the pair from the sweeper bus. “It's weird, after places eight and four, I was expecting second today”, said Ludescher, counting on the probability of recurring events and having a sense of humour about the mishaps of the day. Meanwhile Sokoll hopes that all the bad luck has been used up for the remaining trophy.
And if the one or the other rider hasn't completely exhausted themselves, they can let their hair down at the Irvinebank Pub: The evening's entertainment program includes a performance of the “Hillbilly Goats”, and their music sounds exactly like you would expect from their name: light-hearted and lively country-style, perfect to shake a leg...
Stage 3: Granite Gorge to Irvinebank, 144 km
|1 Bart Brentjens (Ned) Brentjens/Trek||5:18:34|
|2 Urs Huber (Sui)||at 0:01|
|3 Mike Mulkens (Bel) GAWW
|4 Allan Oras (Est) Rietumu-Delfin Team 9||26:30|
|5 Taigh Banson (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||26:31|
|6 Cory Wallace (Can) Kona||36:40|
|7 Réne Haselbacher (Aut)||36:41|
|8 Matthijs Pot (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||40:03|
|9 Peter Van Mill (Ned) Jef Abels Bikes Gulpen||49:45|
|10 Christoph Tschellnig (Aut) morethanbike||1:01:15|
|11 Marc Locherer (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||1:12:52|
|12 Paul Ensink (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||1:17:19|
|13 James Lamb (Aus) SVC Imports / Rocky Trail||1:27:45|
|14 Bart Verberckmoes (Bel) RESIBIKE Cycling Team||1:58:02|
|15 Vinne Los (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||2:02:42|
|16 Philipp Ludescher (Aut)||2:07:37|
|17 Christoph Sokoll (Aut)||2:07:38|
|18 Hamish Taylor (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||4:08:04|
|1 Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum Team 10||7:13:44|
|2 Lauretta Howarth (Aus) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||8:23:03|
|3 Nancy Caceres (Aus)||8:39:21|
|4 Lesley Sutton (Aus)||9:29:12|
|5 Sharman Parr (NZl) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||9:34:13|
|6 Maree Roberts (Aus) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||9:34:13|
|1 Urs Huber (Sui)||10:17:46|
|2 Bart Brentjens (Ned) Brentjens/Trek||at 4:23|
|3 Mike Mulkens (Bel) GAWW||33:08|
|4 Cory Wallace (Can) Kona||53:34|
|5 Allan Oras (Est) Rietumu-Delfin Team 9||58:41|
|6 Taigh Banson (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||1:21:18|
|7 Peter Van Mill (Ned) Jef Abels Bikes Gulpen||1:36:19|
|8 Matthijs Pot (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||1:43:49|
|9 Réne Haselbacher (Aut)||1:59:16|
|10 Christoph Tschellnig (Aut) morethanbike||2:02:38|
|11 Paul Ensink (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||2:36:00|
|12 Marc Locherer (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||2:41:33|
|13 Philipp Ludescher (Aut)||2:45:52|
|14 James Lamb (Aus) SVC Imports / Rocky Trail||2:50:40|
|15 Christoph Sokoll (Aut)||2:51:12|
|16 Vinne Los (Ned) BIKE ONE TEAM LAPIERRE Team 1||3:44:48|
|17 Bart Verberckmoes (Bel) RESIBIKE Cycling Team||5:03:42|
|18 Hamish Taylor (Aus) Fraser and Mountain Team 6||8:32:50|
|1 Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum Team 10||14:04:41|
|2 Lauretta Howarth (Aus) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||16:41:28|
|3 Nancy Caceres (Aus)||17:24:03|
|4 Lesley Sutton (Aus)||18:11:18|
|5 Maree Roberts (Aus) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||18:35:52|
|6 Sharman Parr (NZl) SheSpoke Cycle Wear Team 2||18:51:20|
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