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Crocodile Trophy 2011

Date range:
October 18-27, 2011

October 24, Stage 7: Mt. Mulgrave - Laura 151km

Sokoll wins stage one year after billabong crash

By:
Cycling News
Published:
October 24, 2011, 16:44 BST,
Updated:
October 24, 2011, 18:14 BST

Boelen retains lead after a day of road tactics

Christoph Sokoll made a name for himself in cycling by riding 190km at the front as a first-year elite rider during the 2009 Mendrisio Road World Championship, which was won by Cadel Evans. Now the mountain bikers know him, too, after his stage 7 win at the Crocodile Trophy.

In contrast, it was a most unfortunate day for Belgian Mike Mulkens, who has been trying for three years to claim a stage win at the Crocodile Trophy. With 1km to go to today's finish in Laura, he punctured while in the lead with Sokoll, who was thought to be slower in the sprint. Dutchman Jeroen Boelen kept his red leader's jersey, but lost some precious seconds to challenger and former race leader Urs Huber.

"This is a very special victory for me," said Sokoll. "Exactly on this stage last year, I crashed and broke three ribs and a collarbone. Despite that, I managed to finish the stage at the time, but it was the hardest the day in my life. When we passed that infamous billabong where I crashed today, I felt already better having survived that creek crossing. In the mean time, I was also riding in the front. The whole day I felt really strong."

Sokoll made part of an early break consisting of his compatriot René Haselbacher, Australian Mark Griffin and the Belgians Mike Mulkens and Kevin Hulsmans. Those five would stay in the front for the entire stage.

The road from Mt Mulgrave to Laura was long but not too demanding. The road riders had an advantage. And it would become a tactical road race with riders pretending, riders faking and riders seeking for allies. The peloton didn't seem to be worried about the breakaway as it gained a maximum of five minutes.

Even Wolfgang Krenn, who saw his third overall place in jeopardy, did not panic. "I had confidence that they would never get more of an advantage. We kept the pace in the peloton (of 22 riders) at a good level but not too high. They would have never surprised us."

"That's correct," said race leader Boelen. "We kept everything under control. It was like in a road race where the leader of the race gives a breakaway a go. If some others in my group wanted a stage victory, they needed to cooperate with me. They didn't, so the break managed to stay in the front."

The only problem was that there was no real harmony in the front group. The presence of two Austrians and two Belgians lead to rivalry and discussions. "There were a lot of discussions," said Griffin. The Australian was a bit of a surprise in the break.

"The other riders were not so happy with the behaviour of Mike Mulkens. Mulkens was complaining the whole time that he was not strong enough to cooperate and that he had some problems with the valve of his tube."

Griffin was happy just to be in the front. The Sydney rider, who has been hanging all week around 10th and 11th place, arrived by coincidence at the Crocodile Trophy. He was the best rider in a series of Australian events by Rocky Trail Entertainment, which is supported by Bernard Beer, one of the Crocodile Trophy sponsors, and he won an entry ticket for the 1200 kilometer adventure through North Queensland.

"I won't complain. I didn't want to finish the Crocodile Trophy without having given it a go. Today I did. I also had in mind to eventually take that leader's jersey in the masters category. Unfortunately the stage was 20km too long for me. The corrugations and the headwind were too much for me. On the other hand, I trained for this race. My Ashfield Cycles Team and I completed a seven-month training program. I also watched all Tour de France stages on my home trainer. That delivered."

It wasn't just the distance that made the race too hard for Griffin. The Sydney rider was not used to the road riders' behaviour in the front. "Mulkens said he had a flat tyre," said Hulsmans. "For 20km, he did not work with us. I was irritated, also as I expected him to have made an agreement with the Austrians. That's why I attacked."

With less than 30km to go, Hulsmans attacked. Griffin dropped and Hulsmans was able to take one minute. Now Mulkens had to chase. Together with Sokoll and Haselbacher, he did. They came closer and closer. After 12km chasing, they caught the Belgian rider. "Kevin went too early", said Haselbacher. "And indeed there was no cohesion in the front. I always said to the others to keep on going. Today was really like a Paris-Roubaix stage. Relatively flat but hard, and you just needed to keep on going."

"Too hard on those corrugated, Bois de Wallers roads indeed," said Hulsmans afterwards. "But it was nice. Dust, mud, sand, this is heroic cycling. I played the game, but I lost. This is no UCI race, but everybody starts here to win. It is hard, but I will try again. Maybe again tomorrow."

Only Mulkens and Sokoll were left in the game at the 10km to go mark as Haselbacher paid for his efforts. Sokoll and Mulkens went into the last kilometer and a small climb. And then Mulkens just stepped off his bike with a flat rear tyre. Instead of continuing on his punctured wheel, he stopped, put some air in the tube, but Sokoll was of course gone in the meantime.

"Honestly, I think I had also more power in my legs than Mulkens at that moment," said Sokoll. And that could be right as Mulkens, with only 500 meters to go, and sure of a second place in the stage, stopped again. He ripped off his shirt and went off the road. Just sitting, just deeply breathing or was it crying? The two-time third overall in the Crocodile Trophy would again not be able to claim a stage at the Crocodile Trophy.

"I was 'done'. I could not handle my handlebars anymore. I was empty. I don't know how a heart attack feels, but I was really scared," said Mulkens, who finally went over the finsh line 11:36 later than Sokoll. It was drama for the Belgian rider. "Of course, I could have won here in Laura."

In the end, the peloton with Huber and Boelen came close, and Huber even managed to take 16 seconds back on Boelen. "I knew that last sharp corner from last year," said Huber. "Many riders crashed there in the gravel. I took care to take that corner as first rider, which was good as Jeroen Boelen crashed behind me. I don't give up on the overall. Every second counts."

For Boelen, there were no major injuries, just some bruises and road rash on his left leg.

The happiest man in Laura today was stage winner Sokoll, a third-year elite road rider. After his Mendrisio raid, Bernard Eisel's training mate got an offer from Footon-Servetto but stuck with the Austrian Corratec-Vorarlberg Team. For 2012, he has an agreement with Tyrol Team, a continental team. "Mountain biking is no priority for me. Before this race, I was on the mountain bike only three times. Maybe I should do this more often, but then, like most of the favourites here, also with 29-inch wheels."

Tommorrow's stage will bring 89km from Laura to Kalpowar. It will be without the two heroic handbikers who arrived at the Crocodile Trophy camp after 18 hours on their bikes yesterday. This morning, they were not able to start in today's stage, due to heat stroke and fever cramps suffered by Patrik Doak and an open skin wound for Carlos Moleda, who was sitting on a stone while cycling for hours during yesterday's stage. Their teammate and supporter Andrew Chafer on a mountain bike will continue and finish the Crocodile Trophy and will be welcomed by Patrik and Carlos at Cooktown's Grassy Hill.

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Full Results

Men stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Christoph Sokoll (Aut) 5:24:05  
2 Urs Huber (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team 0:01:23  
3 Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek 0:01:39  
4 Wolfgang Krenn (Aut) 0:01:40  
5 Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea    
6 Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 0:02:28  
7 Josef Benedseder (Aut) 0:02:56  
8 Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team 0:11:36  
9 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 0:15:57  
10 Bruno Naessens (Bel) 0:29:55  
11 Samuel McGregor (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution 0:33:37  
12 Ondrej Slezak (Cze) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 0:41:52  
13 Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 0:48:12  
14 Roeland Suys (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team    
15 Sam Van De Gucht (Bel) 1:02:42  
16 Sander Van Schuerbeeck (Bel) 1:03:19  
17 Chris Hellman (Aus) 1:15:29  
18 Bram Donckers (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 3:12:16  
Women stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Jessica Douglas (Aus) 6:46:41  
2 Sharman Parr (NZl) kickass 2:18:17  
M1 stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 5:26:16  
2 Gert Maes (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 0:00:17  
3 Jan Verboven (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 0:00:45  
4 Mark Griffin (Aus) Ashfield Cycles & Rockytrail 0:02:20  
5 René Haselbacher (Aut) 0:06:19  
6 Michal Lanik (Cze) 0:14:13  
7 Mike Blewitt (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com    
8 Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution 0:25:59  
9 Steve Petre (Aus) 0:27:42  
10 Tim Schepens (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc 0:48:12  
11 Ki Joong Kim (Kor) Team Korea    
12 Michal Kafka (Aus) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 1:03:09  
13 Peter Roelens (Bel) 1:09:43  
14 Matthias Schwarze (Ger) The Fitzroy Revolution 1:20:25  
15 Martin Wisata (Aut) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 1:40:59  
16 Dirk Hörnig (Ger) 1:53:56  
17 Laurent Tesch (Bel) 2:06:40  
18 Frederic Starck (Bel)    
19 Werner Van Vuuren (Aus) 2:10:14  
20 Michael Taylor (Aus) 2:10:15  
21 Andreas Buchegger (Aut) 2:14:38  
22 Christophe Demeyere (Bel) 2:21:08  
23 Nicola Gianfranceschi (Ita) 2:35:19  
M2 stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Marc Baechli (Swi) 5:26:48  
2 Brad Davies (Aus) 0:01:58  
3 Carl Maroney (Aus) 0:13:41  
4 Shaun Portegys (NZl) 0:14:41  
5 Baelen Guy Van (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc 0:59:59  
6 Patrick Mensch (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 1:00:00  
7 Aloyse Albert Schartz (Lux) 1:00:24  
8 Christiaan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos 1:03:56  
9 Johan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos    
10 Thomas Holmberg (Den) 1:13:10  
11 Stéphane Maitrejean (Bel) 2:06:08  
12 Blair King (NZl) 2:08:19  
13 Andrew Chafer (USA) Team Van Be Venture 2:09:44  
14 John Boswell (Aus) 2:21:02  
15 Gianni Banterla (Ita) 2:34:46  
16 Rien Montsma (Ned) Silvis en Vos 2 2:36:03  
17 Jeroen Tiebie (Ned) Silvis en Vos    
M3 stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Danieli Team 6:39:01  
2 Gerhard Grasmugg (Aut) 0:14:56  
3 Andreas Wittmann (Ger) 0:57:32  
4 Andrew Radcliffe (Aus)    
5 Greg Parr (Aus) kickass 2:25:57  
Tandem stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Doris Ermens & Lieven Straetmans (Bel) 6:26:15  
2 Daniele Modolo & Sebastian Favaro (Ita) Il Tandem Italia 0:45:36  
Points
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Christoph Sokoll (Aut) 20  pts
2 Urs Huber (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team 15  
3 Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek 10  
4 Wolfgang Krenn (Aut) 5  
5 Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea 2  
Men general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek 23:48:32  
2 Urs Huber (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team 0:07:04  
3 Wolfgang Krenn (Aut) 0:44:49  
4 Josef Benedseder (Aut) 0:54:54  
5 Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team 0:59:54  
6 Christoph Sokoll (Aut) 1:19:41  
7 Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 1:47:13  
8 Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea 1:52:01  
9 Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 2:27:13  
10 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 2:27:20  
11 Ondrej Slezak (Cze) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 3:14:30  
12 Samuel McGregor (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution 3:43:28  
13 Bruno Naessens (Bel) 3:57:13  
14 Roeland Suys (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team 6:07:32  
15 Sam Van De Gucht (Bel) 6:41:04  
16 Sander Van Schuerbeeck (Bel) 6:41:42  
17 Chris Hellman (Aus) 7:09:13  
18 Bram Donckers (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 15:35:15  
Women general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Jessica Douglas (Aus) 29:56:16  
2 Sharman Parr (NZl) kickass 12:55:01  
M1 general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 25:31:44  
2 Mark Griffin (Aus) Ashfield Cycles & Rockytrail 0:07:41  
3 Jan Verboven (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 0:28:05  
4 Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution 0:33:03  
5 Mike Blewitt (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 1:07:09  
6 Michal Lanik (Cze) 1:14:39  
7 Gert Maes (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 1:34:37  
8 René Haselbacher (Aut) 1:41:00  
9 Steve Petre (Aus) 3:04:01  
10 Michal Kafka (Aus) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 3:22:25  
11 Tim Schepens (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc 4:03:29  
12 Ki Joong Kim (Kor) Team Korea 4:40:48  
13 Matthias Schwarze (Ger) The Fitzroy Revolution 5:21:08  
14 Peter Roelens (Bel) 5:55:32  
15 Martin Wisata (Aut) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 6:06:35  
16 Werner Van Vuuren (Aus) 7:39:12  
17 Frederic Starck (Bel) 8:17:18  
18 Laurent Tesch (Bel) 8:17:20  
19 Michael Taylor (Aus) 8:45:00  
20 Andreas Buchegger (Aut) 9:17:22  
21 Dirk Hörnig (Ger) 9:50:31  
22 Christophe Demeyere (Bel) 13:18:05  
23 Nicola Gianfranceschi (Ita) 14:32:27  
M2 general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Brad Davies (Aus) 26:14:34  
2 Shaun Portegys (NZl) 0:22:45  
3 Marc Baechli (Swi) 1:23:51  
4 Carl Maroney (Aus) 1:34:33  
5 Patrick Mensch (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 3:34:49  
6 Baelen Guy Van (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc 3:43:27  
7 Johan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos 5:18:43  
8 Christiaan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos 5:18:46  
9 Aloyse Albert Schartz (Lux) 5:42:48  
10 Thomas Holmberg (Den) 6:08:06  
11 Jeroen Tiebie (Ned) Silvis en Vos 6:50:44  
12 Stéphane Maitrejean (Bel) 7:34:25  
13 John Boswell (Aus) 9:57:45  
14 Rien Montsma (Ned) Silvis en Vos 2 10:55:08  
15 Blair King (NZl) 10:56:52  
16 Gianni Banterla (Ita) 13:33:56  
17 Andrew Chafer (USA) Team Van Be Venture 28:41:52  
M3 general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Danieli Team 30:53:55  
2 Gerhard Grasmugg (Aut) 3:01:11  
3 Andrew Radcliffe (Aus) 3:25:43  
4 Andreas Wittmann (Ger) 3:51:55  
5 Greg Parr (Aus) kickass 11:06:41  
Tandem general classification after stage 7
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Doris Ermens & Lieven Straetmans (Bel) 32:01:07  
2 Daniele Modolo & Sebastian Favaro (Ita) Il Tandem Italia 3:00:50  
Points classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek 100  pts
2 Urs Huber (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team 90  
3 Wolfgang Krenn (Aut) 39  
4 Josef Benedseder (Aut) 30  
5 Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team 20  
6 Christoph Sokoll (Aut) 20  
7 Wolfgang Krenn (Aut) 5  
8 Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 2  
8 Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 2  
8 Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution 2  
8 Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea 2  
Teams classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Subaru/MarathonMTB.com 77:46:22  
2 Den Outback 4bikes croc team 2011 5:09:11  
3 The Fitzroy Revolution 6:43:17  
4 Bernard Rocky Trail Racing 9:49:08  
5 Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 14:09:02  
6 Silvis en Vos 18:25:33