Ondrej Fojtik won stage two of the Crocodile Trophy yesterday (92km with 2500 vert from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo), crossing the line with a 7:58 minute gap to second Ivan Rybarik. Canadian Cory Wallace came in third. Australian, Jason English, unfortunately saw his race ending too early due to a fractured collar bone from an accident on the last kilometres to the finish line.
Saturday’s stage winner, Ivan Rybarik, said that after the “prologue” race at Smithfield, today was the real start of the Crocodile Trophy 2012. Riders gathered at the Cairns Lagoon on Sunday morning ahead of the second stage had a 92km marathon race and 2500m of elevation ahead of them.
After a neutral ride out of the city, the official start was high above Cairns and the pace was quick right away. Austrian road racing talent Patrick Konrad sprinted ahead on the sealed road towards Copperlode Dam and had an immediate lead of about half a minute on a chaser group of 20 riders including stage one’s top finishers in the elite and masters categories as well as a group of about 15 local riders from the Cairns MTB Club who participated in the new open classification.
Technical climbs challenge field
After crossing the massive Copperlode Dam wall, riders entered the rough gravel roads of Dinden National Park and the beginning of the massive climbs, which had been dreaded by some. The Austrian Konrad dropped back on the technical sections and a lead group of three riders formed with Ivan Rybarik (CZE), Wolfgang Krenn (AUT) and Ondrej Fojtik (CZE).
“My friend Ivan Rybarik attacked straight after the dam crossing and Krenn and I stayed with him until the first depot when Ivan suffered a flat tire”, said Fojtik later of how he and Krenn raced on. After 35km they had about a 2 minute lead on their chaser groups – the closest group was a trio with Cory Wallace (CAN), Jason English (AUS) and Mike Mulkens (BEL), because Rybarik had suffered another flat tire and had fallen back to a group of five riders, which included his team mate Ondrej Slezak. The group then worked together on the flat sections to make up ground.
Fojtik digs deep
At the 50km mark it was still Fojtik and Krenn about 2 minutes ahead of English and Wallace, who had dropped a suffering Mulkens on the gruelling climbs in the midday heat, ahead of Rybarik who came closer with every ridden kilometre. As Rybarik picked up his pace, Krenn said his energy levels dropped. “I ran out of water with about 15 km to go until the second feed zone and the temperatures were relentless.”
So it happened that as Fojtik sprinted away from the feed zone, Krenn, English and Wallace with Rybarik in pursuit arrived together and started the final section of the race with a 3.30 minute gap to Fojtik, who increased his pace and crossed the finish line at Lake Tinaroo as Sunday’s stage winner. “I had actually planned to save some energy today, but on the last climb I felt good and the thought of the leaders’ jersey was really motivating and kept me going”, so the content winner and new Croc leader at the finish.
English out of Crocodile Trophy due to injury
Of the chasers English was thought to be the strongest and as had Fojtik crossed the finish line, all eyes were on the tree line, looking for English and his Australian leader’s jersey. Instead, Rybarik charged into the event centre and across the line with a 7.58 gap and reported an accident on the last kilometres involving English and Wallace. Apparently in a narrow section of the already sealed road as they came towards the Lake Tinaroo campsite, a car coming towards Kauri Creek, struck Jason English and also Cory Wallace only escaped narrowly of being hit by riding off the road. Jason English was conscious and able to stand up and Wallace raced towards the finish to alarm the Croc Trophy medical crew who brought Jason English and his bike with a cracked top tube back into the event centre.
We are happy to report that Jason English is in good spirits and was sent to the nearby Atherton Hospital to get his shoulder x-rayed. A first diagnosis is a fractured left collar bone and Jason won’t be starting at stage 3 tomorrow. The whole Croc camp wishes him well and a speedy recovery.
Triathlete Kate Major wins female category again
The Australian endurance athlete from Sydney said that today’s stage was tough, however, that she really enjoyed it. Living for the past years in the US, it had been her dream to participate in the Crocodile Trophy and see here home country’s remote Outback – on her bike. “I’ve never done anything like this”, she said at Lake Tinaroo today. “I take every day as it comes, I’ve done so much racing, so this is my holiday. I’m here to have fun and to ride through those rainforests was just magnificent today. You won’t get that on a tourist bus, that’s for sure!”
“Where do the climbs start?”
This was the breathless comment of Jason Chalker at a section with a gradient of at least 20% as he rode towards the spectacular Lake Tinaroo today, the jewel in the crown of the Atherton Tablelands. He would soon have found them, as the riders passed the literally breathtaking sceneries of the Dinden National Park and with it also the highest point in Far North Queensland in Danbulla National Park.
Today’s stage, after the official start in Atherton at 9am, will take the riders on a very rough route through some spectacular river crossings, more steep climbs and descents into Herberton. The road into Irvinebank is said to be good but hilly, where the 111 km / 2700 m stage will finish.
Photo: Crocodile Trophy/Regina Stanger