Brentjens takes another stage, inches closer to Huber's race lead

High heat takes its toll on the way to Laura

The great Dutchman Bart Brentjens today claimed his fifth consecutive Crocodile Trophy stage against a backdrop of searing heat, serious crashes and remarkable feats of endurance from competitors who struggled to reach the finish of the 151-kilometre journey from Mount Mulgrave to Laura.

With the mercury hovering above 45 degrees (Celsius) for most of the day, conditions were at the absolute extreme of what riders could tolerate on a day when they also had to negotiate stony trails, deep corrugations and sand patches on the Outback roads of Australia's Cape York.

At the end of five agonising hours in the saddle, Brentjens finally managed to shake race leader Urs Huber, Belgian Mike Mulkens and Slovenia's Jure Robic in a sprint finish. In the process he gained only a handful of seconds on time bonuses, with opportunities running out to haul in the race lead of the Swiss Huber, which stands at one minute and one second.

"That was long and hot. It wasn't that good as it was supposed to be in the road book - pretty rough terrain, rough gravel, some loose parts, loose sand and the heat, the heat kills you every day," a visibly exhausted Brentjens said.

"Urs, he was pushing the hammer down really hard from the river crossing, he already spent a lot of energy and I was on his wheel."

Brentjens is looking to tomorrow's Queen stage from Laura to Cooktown to possibly launch an attack on the overall race leader, who continues to hang on in the toughest of circumstances.

"Definitely if there will be a chance I will do it, but today it was hot and I know from yesterday, I blew up before the finish," Brentjens said. "I (will) try to make a good attack maybe tomorrow or the day after."

Huber appears to be feeling more confident by the day, knowing the profile over the next two stages includes numerous hills, where the Swiss mountain man is most at home.

"I think today was the last flat stage so Brentjens have won five seconds again," Huber said. "So I still have one minute in front overall and the next two days are with more mountains so I think that's good for me."

Disaster Strikes For Australia's Prete

Stage seven of the Crocodile Trophy turned into a disaster for Australia's Tropical Tableland Discovery Team after its leader, teenager Josh Prete, crashed heavily at the crossing of the Palmer River and snapped his right collarbone.

Up until that point, the burgeoning Australian talent was riding with the race leaders, but his Crocodile Trophy campaign went to hell crossing the very same river which his Grandfather once mined for gold.

"Just going into the Palmer River it was really sandy and dusty and there was about four guys in front of me," Prete said. "I couldn't see anything and just went straight down onto my collarbone and I think someone hit from behind."

Prete was treated on scene by race doctor Alexandra Reimann before being transported to Cooktown hospital for x-rays.

He returned to the Crocodile Trophy camp site this evening to view x-rays of the injury with Doctor Reimann and fellow competitor Dr Andrew Graham who is also an orthopaedic surgeon.

The prognosis is that the injured collarbone will require surgery.

"I'm happy that I exceeded my expectations in this race, but unhappy that I didn't finish," a clearly disappointed Prete said. "I wanted to have one really good stage, which is what I was hoping for, but I'll have to come back next year."

Zeldenrust wins women's sprint

The women's race also ended in a sprint finish after the group containing the three racer leaders stayed intact over the 151-kilometre journey.

Eager to place her stamp of authority on the race at the end of it's most difficult stage, Dutch race leader Monique Zeldenrust outsprinted her rivals Abby McLennan and Lisa Pleyer to maintain her absolute stranglehold on the race.

"I know the other girls wanted to win today, but I really wanted to win this stage too," a determined Zeldenrust said.

McLennan, who continues to gather strength, placed second, with Pleyer third.

How hot was today's race?

The heat in the day's Crocodile Trophy stage seemed to catch riders by surprise, given so far this has been a relatively cool Crocodile Trophy.

Monitoring the conditions on course, Dr Andrew Graham of the Jungle Patrol Wilderness Medicine Team provided insight into the seriousness of the climate situation.

"It was on the clock 45.5 degrees Celsius with pretty accurate gauges, and everyone would have had minimum 10 litres of water," Dr Graham said.

"Some of the bigger guys had 14 litres of water today. It's certainly as tough as I've seen, certainly tougher than walking the Kokoda trail."

Sharman Parr, who has completed many of the world's difficult endurance feats including the Hawaii Ironman, has coped well on the trail, but has learned not to underestimate the race.

"I'm fortunate that the boys looked after me, it brought back flashes of Hawaii," Parr said. "The guys were great and they got me through.

"It's only like one day in Hawaii, it's what day seven today? Hawaii's easy compared to this.

Today's last-placed finisher, Australian Chris Neal, made it to the finish line in just in 10 hours as the sun set over Laura's mythical Quinkan country.

"It wasn't too bad out there," Neal said. "I even stopped and had a swim in a Billabong."

Tomorrow's queen stage from Laura to Cooktown will be another difficult challenge. The race will pass through real crocodile country in Lakefield National Park, before riders battle a stiff headwind into Cooktown.

The ultimate reward will be finishing atop Grassy Hill, where views over the Pacific Ocean await.

Elite Men
1Bart Brentjens (Ned) Trek-Brentjens MTB Racing Team5:00:19 
2Urs Huber (Swi) Team Schackli-Craft  
3Mike Mulkens (Bel)  
4Jurij Robic (Slo) Matej & Jure0:00:22 
5Steve Rankine (Aus) Tropical Tablelands Discovery0:07:49 
6Kai Hundertmark (Ger) Dream Team0:07:58 
7Tomas Kozak (Cze) Di-ELCOM-Outdoor sports club  
8Shane Taylor (Aus)0:15:13 
9Daris Zubani (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura0:38:56 
10James Banner-Smith (Aus) Rattle N Hum1:20:29 
11Morten Larsen (Den) Team Sun-Print1:22:17 
12Ivan Negro (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura1:23:14 
DNFChristoph Kirchmeier (Aut)1:30:44 
Elite Women
1Monique Zeldenrust (Ned)6:20:43 
2Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum0:00:05 
3Lisa Pleyer (Aut) Roadbike Holidays - KTM0:00:49 
4Eva Hasek (Cze) Outdoor Sports Club1:32:10 
5Sharman Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine1:36:15 
M1 Men
1Isaac Tonello (Aus)5:14:04 
2Nikolaus Syc (Ger)0:00:22 
3Alexander Valdiek (Ger) JRV Team Deutsche Sepsisgesellschaft  
4Franz Preihs (Aut) Radsport Kotnik-Focus0:25:11 
5Raimund Burback (Aut)  
6Glen De Bont (Bel) Shifting Gears  
7Sam Brovender (Can) Team SDC Chris Nicholson0:25:53 
8Per Imer (Den) Team Sun-Print0:25:55 
9Sam Nathan (Aus) Team Nathan0:33:36 
10Ron Whitehead (Aus) Ron Whitehead1:06:54 
11Dennis Bergen (Den) Team Sun-Print1:07:09 
DNFJesse Hovestreijdt (Ned)  
M2 Men
1Milan Spolc (Cze)5:08:17 
2Erich Reith (Aut)0:18:42 
3Branko Grah (Aut) Team RC Sereno0:19:09 
4Frederik Zierke (Ger) Dream Team0:24:50 
5Pieter van Rooyen SAF Team Van Rooyen0:31:41 
6Chris Nicholson (Aus) Team SDC Chris Nicholson0:32:31 
7Günter Weichbold (Aut)0:46:56 
8Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Team Tomesetig1:02:59 
9Scott McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum  
10Yvan Vekemans (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville  
11Kees Zuidhoek (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop  
12Josef Neururer (Swi) Velolade-Hittnau.ch  
13Rudolf Hansgut (Cze)1:25:35 
14Jörg Steenbock (Ger) WINGSforLife.com1:39:51 
15Marten Zeldenrust (Ned)1:42:44 
16Bernhard Weixelbaum (Aut) Team RC Sereno2:07:32 
17Mohammed Boufessile (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville2:22:14 
18Geert Matthijs (Bel) Team Matthys  
19Willemjan Hopstaken (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop2:44:36 
20Paul van Hattem (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop2:45:10 
21Hennie Schoonheim (Ned)2:45:16 
22Aaron Pickett-Heaps (Aus)2:47:26 
23Theo Molenbrugge (Ned) Theo Molenbrugge2:47:28 
24Greg Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine2:48:41 
25Andrew Graham (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine  
26Erik Stokman (Ned)3:23:25 
27Erwin Klocker (Aus)  
28Heinz von Holzen (Swi)  
29Jan van Baast (Ned)  
30Chris Neal (Aus)4:34:28 
Z-E Bike
1Klaus Sever (Aut) Radsport Weichberger BionX8:37:56 
Elite Men standings
1Urs Huber (Swi) Team Schackli-Craft24:33:55 
2Bart Brentjens (Ned) Trek-Brentjens MTB Racing Team0:01:01 
3Mike Mulkens (Bel)1:02:12 
4Jurij Robic (Slo) Matej & Jure1:14:31 
5Tomas Kozak (Cze) Di-ELCOM-Outdoor sports club1:37:40 
6Kai Hundertmark (Ger) Dream Team2:20:08 
7Steve Rankine (Aus) Tropical Tablelands Discovery2:33:02 
8Shane Taylor (Aus)3:33:18 
9Daris Zubani (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura4:05:37 
10Ivan Negro (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura5:58:16 
11Morten Larsen (Den) Team Sun-Print6:06:18 
12James Banner-Smith (Aus) Rattle N Hum7:36:23 
13Christoph Kirchmeier (Aut)8:09:18 
Elite Women standings
1Monique Zeldenrust (Ned)30:11:54 
2Lisa Pleyer (Aut) Roadbike Holidays - KTM1:24:41 
3Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum1:32:21 
4Eva Hasek (Cze) Outdoor Sports Club6:43:31 
5Sharman Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine11:04:15 
M1 standings
1Isaac Tonello (Aus)27:03:40 
2Alexander Valdiek (Ger) JRV Team Deutsche Sepsisgesellschaft0:19:01 
3Nikolaus Syc (Ger)0:25:57 
4Raimund Burback (Aut)1:00:13 
5Franz Preihs (Aut) Radsport Kotnik-Focus1:23:15 
6Glen De Bont (Bel) Shifting Gears1:29:47 
7Sam Nathan (Aus) Team Nathan1:53:31 
8Per Imer (Den) Team Sun-Print3:33:45 
9Sam Brovender (Can) Team SDC Chris Nicholson4:15:12 
10Dennis Bergen (Den) Team Sun-Print4:56:47 
11Ron Whitehead (Aus) Ron Whitehead5:03:05 
M2 standings
1Milan Spolc (Cze)26:35:46 
2Branko Grah (Aut) Team RC Sereno0:46:36 
3Erich Reith (Aut)1:38:45 
4Frederik Zierke (Ger) Dream Team2:07:40 
5Günter Weichbold (Aut)2:12:28 
6Pieter van Rooyen SAF Team Van Rooyen3:32:02 
7Chris Nicholson (Aus) Team SDC Chris Nicholson4:30:57 
8Josef Neururer (Swi) Velolade-Hittnau.ch4:52:38 
9Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Team Tomesetig5:02:25 
10Yvan Vekemans (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville5:07:30 
11Scott McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum5:10:24 
12Kees Zuidhoek (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop5:40:58 
13Rudolf Hansgut (Cze)6:52:03 
14Jörg Steenbock (Ger) WINGSforLife.com7:37:13 
15Marten Zeldenrust (Ned)7:58:01 
16Mohammed Boufessile (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville7:59:32 
17Bernhard Weixelbaum (Aut) Team RC Sereno8:17:06 
18Geert Matthijs (Bel) Team Matthys8:23:32 
19Theo Molenbrugge (Ned) Theo Molenbrugge10:27:10 
20Hennie Schoonheim (Ned)11:57:54 
21Aaron Pickett-Heaps (Aus)12:02:44 
22Paul van Hattem (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop12:13:25 
23Andrew Graham (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine12:13:58 
24Willemjan Hopstaken (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop12:20:29 
25Greg Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol, Wilderness Medicine13:31:50 
26Heinz von Holzen (Swi)15:25:03 
27Erwin Klocker (Aus)15:26:32 
28Jan van Baast (Ned)16:15:30 
29Erik Stokman (Ned)16:51:23 
30Chris Neal (Aus)18:06:50 
Teams standings
1Dream Team82:13:15 
2Team Sun-Print11:04:50 
3Rattle N Hum13:27:28 
4Team Kees Fietsshop27:48:55 
5jungle patrol; wilderness medicine38:00:14 
DNFTropical Tablelands Discovery  
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