Benetseder wins Crocodile Trophy stage 8

Frendo remains in overall lead

Austrian Josef Benetseder won his second Crocodile Trophy stage on Saturday into Hope Vale. The wide and open Outback Highways suited the European road pro, and he crossed the line in 3:59:50 with a gap of almost six minutes to the main field, which arrived in big bunches and several finishing sprints to decide the final placings.

Second place in the elite men's division for stage 8 went to last year's fastest Australian Steve Rankine from Cape York ahead of Czech Jiri Krivanek by just two seconds.

Mark Frendo from Australia still leads the race overall by almost 12 minutes ahead of Cory Wallace and Jiri Krivanek.

Liesbeth Hessens won the women's category by 26:41 over runner-up Maria Cristina and holds a likely insurmountable overall lead with just one stage remaining.

The penultimate stage of the 19th Crocodile Trophy had riders head out from the sleepy town of Laura onto Battle Camp Road into the Lakefield National Park and the scenery was dominated by the iconic Australian Outback landscape – wide and deep-red gravel highways under bright-blue skies.

Kangaroos, lizards and all kinds of birds accompanied the riders as they were racing in the heat towards the coast and the Aboriginal town of Hope Vale. Several river crossings provided a welcome cool spray of water and the terrain kept changing from rough and corrugated gravel roads to recently upgraded asphalt highways.

Ideal conditions for road pro Benetseder

"I have to admit that I had my eyes on this stage right from the start in Cairns," said stage winner Benetseder. "I knew that after the second feed zone there would be some steep climbs and I used my chance to attack."

The Austrian won his second stage of the race on his home country's National Day. "Today is a special day in Austria, we celebrate our National Day," said am emotional Benetseder. "That was a big motivation for me – two years ago, I lost a stage win in the finish corner on that day. I had some unfinished business at the Croc, but now I've got the stage win back."

Cory Wallace, one of the main favourites and currently second overall in the elite category behind the Australian Mark Frendo, was disappointed with his race. "I tried to chase Josef, but no one would work with me. Mark was obviously just keeping me at bay, but with today's head wind I didn't stand a chance keeping up with a road pro on my own."

He explained that a breakaway group of four had formed, which saw Benetseder escape – Wallace, Frendo and the Czech rider Krivanek couldn't keep up with the fast pace and eventually let themselves fall back to the next bigger chase group.

Frendo cautiously optimistic about tomorrow's arrival in Cooktown

With a gap of almost 12 minutes to Wallace, Frendo for the first time showed some excitement. "My main fear now is a mechanical, I'll be very careful tomorrow to keep it all together until Grassy Hill," the humble former U19 and U23 mountain bike national champion said at the finish.

The now 28-year-old had just gotten back into racing and plans to compete in more stage races in future. "I raced with Cory at the Mongolia Challenge earlier in the year and got a good idea of what level of endurance it takes to have a chance to beat Cory. I trained hard and went into this race with confidence that I could do it."

Frendo's victory tomorrow would be the first Crocodile Trophy win since fellow Australian Adam Hansen's double-victories in 2004 and 2005.

Sunday's final stage features a 50km leg with sandy terrain and river crossings from Hope Vale through Endeabour River National Park. The final challenge will be the 30% climb up to Grassy Hill, which mark's Captain Cook's landing spot in Australia almost 250 years ago.

Elite men stage 8
1Josef Benetseder (Aut) Team Eybl3:59:50 
2Steve Rankine (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans0:05:53 
3Jiri Krivanek (Cze) Prestige0:05:55 
4Cory Wallace (Can) Kona-MBC0:05:56 
5Paul Mashford (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans  
6Mark Frendo (Aus)0:05:59 
7Bart Duraj (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans0:08:11 
8Patrick Schörkmayer (Aut) Team-Beniva  
9Matthew Page (GBr) A Cycling/Pivot0:08:18 
10Adam Cobain (Aus) Amy Gillet Foundation0:13:35 
11Bevan Spratt (NZl)0:15:53 
12Alessandro Bianchi Perugini (Ita) asd s.martino emmedue bikepoint1:19:38 
DNFWolfgang Krenn (Aut) Zwillingscraft Stevens - SC Knauf Liezen  
DNFJan Fojtik (Cze) Symbio+ Giant  
DNSSander Cordeel (Bel)  
Elite women stage 8
1Liesbeth Hessens (Bel)4:30:02 
2Maria Cristina (Ita) GS Cicli Matteoni FRW0:26:41 
3Giordana Sordi (Ita) SKYsport-Italy0:52:18 
4Anne-Mette Mortensen (Den) Team Fit 4 Run1:52:02 
M1 stage 8
1Mario Färberböck (Aut) Bikepalast.com4:07:34 
2Huub Tankink (Ned) GT-YellowWings Racing0:07:42 
3Kristof Schrauwen (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?0:19:32 
4Jürgen Hofer (Aut)0:20:20 
5Andreas Ueberrhein (Ger) Mountainbike-Freiburg0:20:30 
6Johan Schrauwen (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?0:20:31 
7Martin Wisata (Aut) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing0:28:43 
8Matthew Moroney (Aus)0:44:37 
9Bart Couckuyt (Bel)0:53:08 
10Kurt Hannes (Bel)0:53:09 
11Vincent Baert (Bel) One life. Live it!1:00:44 
12David Vermander (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?2:25:58 
M2 stage 8
1Hamish Morrin (NZl)4:05:44 
2Hans Planckaert (Bel) Smart Cycling Team0:00:03 
3Peter Mühl (Aut)0:02:20 
4Zbigniew Mossoczy (Pol) Wertykal bikeBoard0:09:30 
5Steve Bunton (NZl) Cervo Rosso / Flat Out Forty0:24:16 
6Kristof Roelandts (Bel) One life. Live it!0:35:13 
7Phil Welch (GBr) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing  
8Andy Tubbs (USA) andy tubbs0:41:49 
9Dennis Valerius (Ned) Jobkitchen.be0:42:16 
10Christian Wenger (Aut) bikepalast0:55:16 
11Georg Vinczencz (Aut) Radsport Waldherr0:57:14 
12Robert Waters (GBr)1:01:22 
13Kurt Alderweireldt (Bel)1:12:09 
14Giovanni Montini (Ita) SKYsport-Italy1:16:36 
15Wolfgang Mader (Aut) Dreamteam Tirol1:22:36 
M3 stage 8
1Peter Selkrig (Aus) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing4:08:03 
2Daniele Bertozzi (Ita) GS Cicli Matteoni FRW0:06:15 
3Gerhard Grassmugg (Aut) Rofa-Sport Graz0:34:31 
4Radim Novotny (Cze) Prestige0:41:45 
5Simon Gillett (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation1:20:07 
6Robert Topfer (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation1:45:44 
7Chris Wessels (Aus)1:45:46 
8Andrew Wily (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation2:03:26 
Men stage 8
1Isaac Tonello (Aus) AMDF - Australian Mitochondrial Disease Federation4:15:14 
1David Stallan (Aus) AMDF - Australian Mitochondrial Disease Federation  
2Jon Standage (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans CA  
2Brendon Skerke (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans CA0:00:01 
Elite men general classification after stage 8
1Mark Frendo (Aus)28:55:05 
2Cory Wallace (Can) Kona-MBC0:11:55 
3Jiri Krivanek (Cze) Prestige0:50:29 
4Paul Mashford (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans1:40:58 
5Josef Benetseder (Aut) Team Eybl2:02:47 
6Matthew Page (GBr) A Cycling/Pivot2:07:33 
7Steve Rankine (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans2:40:02 
8Patrick Schörkmayer (Aut) Team-Beniva3:22:22 
9Bart Duraj (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans3:23:26 
10Bevan Spratt (NZl)3:51:13 
11Adam Cobain (Aus) Amy Gillet Foundation4:06:50 
12Alessandro Bianchi Perugini (Ita) asd s.martino emmedue bikepoint14:45:16 
Elite women general classification after stage 8
1Liesbeth Hessens (Bel)35:04:37 
2Maria Cristina (Ita) GS Cicli Matteoni FRW8:17:47 
3Giordana Sordi (Ita) SKYsport-Italy8:35:42 
4Anne-Mette Mortensen (Den) Team Fit 4 Run13:54:40 
M1 general classification after stage 8
1Mario Färberböck (Aut) Bikepalast.com29:58:54 
2Johan Schrauwen (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?2:42:19 
3Kristof Schrauwen (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?2:44:02 
4Huub Tankink (Ned) GT-YellowWings Racing4:25:26 
5Jürgen Hofer (Aut)5:41:42 
6Martin Wisata (Aut) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing6:06:58 
7Andreas Ueberrhein (Ger) Mountainbike-Freiburg7:00:24 
8Vincent Baert (Bel) One life. Live it!7:59:15 
9Matthew Moroney (Aus)9:26:09 
10Bart Couckuyt (Bel)10:54:41 
11Kurt Hannes (Bel)14:53:20 
12David Vermander (Bel) Houtambacht - Who killed Joe?19:32:05 
M2 general classification after stage 8
1Hans Planckaert (Bel) Smart Cycling Team31:27:36 
2Hamish Morrin (NZl)1:13:20 
3Peter Mühl (Aut)2:42:15 
4Zbigniew Mossoczy (Pol) Wertykal bikeBoard2:54:37 
5Phil Welch (GBr) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing3:26:41 
6Kristof Roelandts (Bel) One life. Live it!4:13:17 
7Dennis Valerius (Ned) Jobkitchen.be5:25:51 
8Andy Tubbs (USA) andy tubbs6:00:09 
9Steve Bunton (NZl) Cervo Rosso / Flat Out Forty7:49:10 
10Christian Wenger (Aut) bikepalast8:36:04 
11Georg Vinczencz (Aut) Radsport Waldherr8:50:22 
12Robert Waters (GBr)9:27:46 
13Giovanni Montini (Ita) SKYsport-Italy9:56:54 
14Kurt Alderweireldt (Bel)10:29:48 
15Wolfgang Mader (Aut) Dreamteam Tirol12:29:31 
M3 general classification after stage 8
1Peter Selkrig (Aus) Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing32:45:50 
2Daniele Bertozzi (Ita) GS Cicli Matteoni FRW3:06:53 
3Simon Gillett (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation9:33:08 
4Radim Novotny (Cze) Prestige10:01:04 
5Gerhard Grassmugg (Aut) Rofa-Sport Graz11:54:33 
6Robert Topfer (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation15:00:27 
7Chris Wessels (Aus)16:16:08 
8Andrew Wily (Aus) Amy Gillett Foundation17:35:11 
Men general classification after stage 8
1David Stallan (Aus) AMDF - Australian Mitochondrial Disease Federation38:16:52 
1Isaac Tonello (Aus) AMDF - Australian Mitochondrial Disease Federation38:17:58 
2Jon Standage (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans CA0:56:38 
2Brendon Skerke (Aus) Tenni's - Cairns Home Loans CA0:00:06 
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