While the overall race lead remains with Atherton's Greg Saw, today the Crocodile Trophy is celebrating its fourth elite stage winner with Cory Wallace. The Canadian National Marathon Champion finished almost three minutes ahead of Ramses Bekkenk (NED) and Greg Saw after a wild ride, only narrowly escaping the attack of a wild bull. Austrian Guido Thaler achieves a personal best at the Crocodile Trophy with a fourth place ahead of Milton Ramos (ESP).
The Elite Women Imogen Smith calls today's stage "the best one yet".
Today's stage had been a wild ride, said Wallace, as he crossed the finish after 3h11:10.81, which pushed him up into third overall and only half a minute behind Ramses Bekkenk (NED) who advanced into second place after four stages.
"On the first section before the technical feed zone suddenly there was this herd of wild cows and this black bull - it was huge - was chasing us," Wallace recounted the close encounter with the "locals" that must have motivated him to pedal even harder because he arrived at said feedzone with a two-minute gap to a chase group including Bekkenk, Saw, Thaler and Milton Ramos from Spain, who weren't as lucky as Wallace. They had to duck and dive to get away from the bull. "I've raced the Crocodile Trophy three times already, but that was the single scariest moment so far," admitted Wallace.
"That bull's horns were wider than my handlebars", confirmed Saw, who was forced off the track, crashed and suffered nasty rashes from a Stinging Tree, a vicious native plant, to escape the wild animal's attack. Thaler was happy with his fourth place and said that he enjoyed the many different terrains and settings that the race track offered today. "There were long, steady climbs, which really suit me, especially now that I've finally recovered from my jetlag. The sandy sections reminded me of home - it was like riding in snow," he said.
While several riders in the mid-field reported snake sightings on various sections of the tough race track, Ramos lost almost 10 minutes against the overall leader, Saw, and dropped back to fourth place in the general classification.
In windy conditions, today's stage had riders climb to the top of the Great Dividing Range, which is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. The range stretches more than 3,500 kilometres from the northern tip of Queensland all the way through New South Wales and deep into the southern Victoria. Because of its location near the coast and specific topography, it is a relatively well-watered and fertile area - the Atherton Tableland region is one of the "fruit bowls" of Australia.
Imogen Smith in her element in Atherton
"This must have been the best Croc stage ever," the rider from Sydney proclaimed at the finish today. "It just had everything - open fire road climbs, dark and moist jungle trails, sandy sections, rocky descents, river crossings - it was hard, but I actually really enjoyed it", she added.
With her strong performance and positive attitude Imogen Smith has earned the respect of fellow racers and the men in particular. "I am the only Elite Women this year, so when I ride, after an hour or so, I try not to let any of the guys overtake me, it keeps me motivated on a long day", explained Imogen Smith.
"The Crocodile Trophy is a really friendly race and I enjoy the atmosphere out on track and in the event centre," she added. The fastest amateur woman today was Sandra Starkey from Melbourne and Rita Esteves still leads the category by almost one and a half hours after four stages overall. Rita Esteves chose the Crocodile Trophy and Australia as her honeymoon destination and her new husband Tiago Silva won in the male amateur 30+ category, adding another boomerang to the family collection after Rita's stage win yesterday.
And again the Canberran riders were victorious - Andrew Hall keeps the amateur leader jersey, Jason Chalker in the 40+ and Garry James in the 50+ categories. Ondrej Slezak successfully defends the "Best Australian" leader jersey yet again.
Tomorrow's fifth stage (95km / 2700m) will take the Crocodile Trophy race circus to Irvinebank, a small mining town, via Hasties Swamp National Park to Herberton and past Mt Misery, an infamous landmark among Crocodile Trophy finishers - long, steep climbs and fast, rocky descents on wide mining access roads await.
Elite men stage 4
|1||Cory Wallace (Can) KONA Factory Team||3:11:10|| |
|2||Ramses Bekkenk (Ned) Koga KMC||0:02:40|| |
|3||Greg Saw (Aus) iHus-Spiuk Norge||0:02:41|| |
|4||Guido Thaler (Aut) CRAFT - Rocky Mountain||0:09:23|| |
|5||Milton Ramos (Spa) Intense-TowCar||0:12:18|| |
Elite women stage 4
|1||Imogen Smith (Aus) Subaru-MarathonMTB.com||4:44:33|| |
Amateur men 1 stage 4
|1||Jindra Knot (Cze)||3:37:22|| |
|2||Andrew Lloyd (Aus)||0:25:23|| |
|3||Benoit Smeuninx (Bel)||0:48:03|| |
|4||Marek Tichy (Cze)||1:22:28|| |
Amateur men 2 stage 4
|1||Silva Tiago (Por)||3:38:04|| |
|2||Andrew Hall (Aus) Vie 13 Kustum Apparel||0:04:30|| |
|3||Jurgen Hofer (Aut) Jurgen Hofer||0:07:18|| |
|4||Michel Pannekeet (Ned) Team Giant-Theo Schilder A||0:10:05|| |
|5||Lander Vanhee (Bel) Desperate Husbands||0:17:09|| |
Amateur men 3 stage 4
|1||Jason Chalker (Aus) Vie 13 kustom apparel||3:56:29|| |
|2||Timothy Goulding (Aus)||0:00:03|| |
|3||Jaysen Searle (Aus) Team Redarc||0:04:01|| |
|4||Pascal De Meulenaer (Bel) Born2Bike||0:07:59|| |
|5||Tom Smets (Bel) O2Bikers||0:12:00|| |
Amateur men 4 stage 4
|1||Garry James (Aus) Garry James||3:57:47|| |
|2||John Cosgriff (Aus) Team Redarc||0:16:06|| |
|3||Andrew Radcliffe (Aus) the greatcyclechallenge & Ride||0:20:42|| |
|4||Jim Knudsen (Den) JJ Peleton||0:23:14|| |
|5||Davide Cassani (Ita) Italian Cistyc Fibrosis Founda||0:35:48|| |
Amateur women stage 4
|1||Sandra Starkey (Aus)||5:16:41|| |
|2||Rita Esteves (Por)||0:14:14|| |
|3||Tania Tryhorn (Aus)||0:33:24|| |
|4||Sharman Parr (Aus)||1:01:41|| |
Elite men general classification after stage 4
|1||Greg Saw (Nor) iHus-Spiuk Norge||11:50:36|| |
|2||Ramses Bekkenk (Ned) Koga KMC||0:11:02|| |
|3||Cory Wallace (Can) KONA Factory Team||0:11:34|| |
|4||Milton Ramos (Spa) Intense-TowCar||0:13:53|| |
|5||Yuki Ikeda (Jpn) Topeak/Ergon/Canyon||0:36:34|| |
Elite women general classification after stage 4
|1||Imogen Smith (Aus) Subaru-MarathonMTB.com||16:29:50|| |
Amateur men 1 general classification after stage 4
|1||Andrew Lloyd (Way2live Quantum Racing)||13:41:55|| |
|2||Jindra Knot (Way2live Quantum Racing)||0:08:21|| |
|3||Benoit Smeuninx||2:46:42|| |
|4||Marek Tichy||4:42:07|| |
Amateur men 2 general classification after stage 4
|1||Andrew Hall (Vie 13 kustom apparel)||12:59:28|| |
|2||Silva Tiago||0:17:36|| |
|3||Jürgen Hofer (Jürgen Hofer)||0:27:07|| |
|4||Grant Webster (Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racin)||0:38:29|| |
|5||Lander Vanhee (desperate husbands)||0:38:46|| |
Amateur men 3 general classification after stage 4
|1||Jason Chalker (Vie 13 kustom apparel)||13:39:15|| |
|2||Timothy Goulding||0:31:50|| |
|3||Max Lelli (Italian Cistyc Fibrosis Founda)||0:50:58|| |
|4||Pascal De Meulenaer (Born2Bike)||0:51:30|| |
|5||Lieven Machtelinckx||0:55:57|| |
Amateur men 4 general classification after stage 4
|1||Garry James (Garry James)||14:18:22|| |
|2||John Cosgriff (Team Redarc)||0:51:46|| |
|3||Davide Cassani (Italian Cistyc Fibrosis Founda)||1:43:16|| |
|4||Andrew Radcliffe (the greatcyclechallenge & Ride)||2:11:39|| |
|5||Jim Knudsen (JJ Peleton)||2:12:17|| |
Amateur women general classification after stage 4
|1||Rita Esteves (Por)||18:24:28|| |
|2||Tania Tryhorn (Aus)||1:28:09|| |
|3||Sandra Starkey||1:30:34|| |
|4||Sharman Parr (Aus)||4:42:33|| |