Looser, Coldwell take first Crocodile Trophy leads

Australian MTB stage race started Saturday and concludes October 20 in Port Douglas

Konny Looser claimed the first Crocodile Trophy stage in 3:59:48 in a sprint finish ahead of Urs Huber. Soren Nissen was third, 4:28 down on the leader but ahead of the Austrians Matthias Grick at 9:33 and Philipp Wetzelberger at 17:16. The Australian ex-road pro Lucy Coldwell won the women’s race ahead of local racer and former winner Sarah White and the Belgian Sjoukje Dufoer.

Stage 1 of the Crocodile Trophy was a 100km marathon from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo via Copperlode Dam and through Dinden Forest. With 2,900m of elevation gain it is one of the hardest climbing stages this year, which will set the tone for a challenging 24th edition of the race. All up the 66 racers will have to complete more than 700km and 15,000m of elevation during the eight days of racing through Tropical North Queensland.

The race started with an 11km neutral ride out of town from Cairns towards Copperlode Dam and a large lead group with all the race favourites this year established a descent gap to the chasers quickly. The Swiss racers Urs Huber and Konny Looser were the strongest and able to break away from the lead group on the steep climbs today.

They decided the stage in a sprint finish after 03:59:48 of racing.

"We both felt really good today, it was a great ride, really challenging", said Huber of day one.

The 33-year old Huber is one of the most accomplished Crocodile Trophy racers of all time – five starts, four victories so far. In 2018 the 33-year old returns for his sixth Crocodile Trophy and says to claim his fifth title is the “clear goal” as it would put him into the record books as the competitor with the most Croc wins of all time in the 24-year history of the race.

For ultra-marathon specialist Loser it is the first Crocodile Trophy and he said that he was looking forward to the new experience.

"I have raced a lot of the major stage races internationally, however, the terrain and stages in Australia are unknown to me. Of course, I will try to claim a podium position."

Looser is one of the strongest endurance mountain bike racers in Europe right now and will be one to watch this year.

The Luxemburg National Champion Nissen placed in third today and will be at the start line tomorrow with a gap of 4:27 minutes. He will try to use his racing experience from his 2015 participation and second place to his advantage, he said.

Coldwell wins in the women's, places 14th outright

In the women’s, the Australian ex-road pro elite cyclist Lucy Coldwell won the stage in 5:05:47. Having representing Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she has taken up mountain biking only over the past twelve months “for fun,” as she said.

“The Croc Trophy is an event I have always wanted to participate in and I always had on my bucket list, so this year I decided it was time to give it a crack," Coldwell explained. “I've heard it's extremely tough and I like a big challenge."

Placing 14th overall in the entire field and finishing with the top amateur men today, she certainly put her mark on the results list.

Local racer and former winner Sarah White placed second in 5:30:32 ahead of former road elite racer from Belgium Sjoukje Dufoer. 

Stage 1 Results

Elite Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Konny Looser (Swi)3:59:48 
2Urs Huber (Swi)0:00:01 
3Sören Nissen (Lux)0:04:28 
4Matthias Grick (Aut)0:09:33 
5Philipp Wetzelberger (Aut)0:17:16 
6Milan Damek (Cze)0:26:59 
7Leander Hamelink (Ned)0:38:36 
8Tom Vandenbussche (Bel)0:39:28 
Elite Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucy Coldwell (Aus)5:05:47 
2Sarah White (Aus)0:24:45 
3Sjoukje Dufoer (Bel)0:52:59 

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