Defending champion sidelined by illness
Urs Huber (Stöckli Pro Team) went into this year's Crocodile Trophy with the intention of winning his third consecutive overall title. However, on Thursday, just before the penultimate stage, he withdrew from the mountain bike stage race due to illness.
During the night, Huber came down with a fever. He had already had a rough stage 8, during which he suffered a bleeding nose for most of the second half. Still, that didn't stop him from putting out a superhuman effort, setting the pace for much of the stage.
"My tent was next to Urs' tent," said Belgian Mike Mulkens (Kipeo MTB Team), a podium finisher in previous years. "I heard him coughing the whole night. No, there is no question about his illness, there is nothing funny about it. Urs is sick."
Going into Thursday's stage Huber was seven minutes off race leader Jeroen Boelen and was the final threat to Boelen's lead. The notoriously sandy stage 9 from Kalpowar to Starke had potential to mix up the classification.
"It is a pity that there was no battle any more with Urs Huber today. It is the way it is. Urs will come back, motivated as ever, I am sure about that," said Boelen.
Huber became the second high profile racer to withdraw from the Crocodile Trophy due to illness. After travelling all the way to Australia from Europe, another top contender, Bart Brentjens, Boelen's Milka-Trek teammate, had to pull out of the race just before it started.