Boelen dominates sandy stage 9

Defending champion Huber withdraws due to illness

Stage 9 wasn't the longest, but it was the technically hardest stage of the Crocodile Trophy. Race leader Jeroen Boelen (Milka-Trek) dominated the day and finished 10 minutes ahead of his nearest challengers. Riding through sand is a specialty of its own, and Boelen mastered it perfectly. Barring any unexpected incidents, he will race to an overall win tomorrow in Cooktown.

Boelen's number one challenger, Urs Huber, who won the past two editions of the race, did not start the day due to illness. The Crocodile Trophy also almost lost its Laura stage winner Christoph Sokoll, who crashed early in the stage.

In preparation for the 7:00 am start, the tent camp was up at 5:00 am to the bad news that number two in the GC, Huber, would not start. He came down with a fever on the eve of the ninth stage. He'd already had a rough stage 8, during which he suffered a bleeding nose for most of the second half.

Huber, who put in a Fabian Cancellara-like performance yesterday, was sitting seven minutes off race leader Boelen and was the last threat to the lead. Stage 9 from Kalpowar to Starke had potential to mix up the classification. Sand, sand and more sand awaited the riders. To make it even more challenging, the terrain was constantly up and down and while there were no big climbs, there were no flat meters either.

In the places where there was no sand, there were deep and tricky wheel ruts. It was one such rut that caused Australian Mark Griffin to crash. Korean Ki Joon Kim, Belgian Jan Verboven and the last two stage winners Huub Duyn and Sokoll fell on top of him.

The other 17 riders in their group waited for them, but Sokoll preferred to let them go on. After 30km, the race doctor diagnosed a rib contusion. Sokoll went further, at his own pace, not bothering about his lost sixth place at the GC.

"Maybe I also broke a right finger, but I want to finish this race. Last year I suffered more. I will arrive in Cooktown. That GC is not important any more. I won a stage. My Crocodile Trophy is already a success," said Sokoll.

The 17-man group was not initially the lead group because almost immediately afer the start - in the middle of the Normanby River crossing, René Haselbacher attacked. "Hasi" had attacked every day, but with his lack of basic condition, he never endured until the end.

Perpetual attacker Kevin Hulsmans went with him as well as the Australian riders Brad Davies and Ashley Hayat.

The four leaders got seven minutes. Boelen pulled towards the front of the chasing group, which then lost yesterday's stage winner Huub Duyn with a broken derailleur. When the real sand misery started, the front group was no front group any more, but four individuals.

One by one they were eaten up by Jeroen Boelen. "I did not really attack," said Duyn. "I just wanted to ride in the front on those difficult sections, and apparently I am better than the others in this special kind of terrain. Where I live, there is a lot of sand, so I am used to this."

The last rider to resist Boelen was Hulsmans, but not for long. "At the second of four feed zones, I only found one drink bottle," said Hulsmans. "In this heat, I was completely lost. I started sitting on the ground and just waited for Huub Duyn. Honestly I would have been good, but probably not good enough to beat Boelen."

Hulsmans had to wait a long time for his teammate Duyn as the Dutch rider struggled with his shoe cleats and crashed some five times and broke his chain, too. Probably none of the riders did not crash on the hard sections through Melville National Park.

Doris Ermens, crashed hard onto her tail bone but finished the race. The Belgian woman and her husband Lieven Straetmans are still leading in the tandem category.

Behind Boelen, there was no organization among riders, but that would have been impossible anyway. One rider went through the sand, another failed to do so, a third one went through the bush on the left side of the course, another one on the right side. The complete Crocodile Trophy peloton was just a group of individuals. Everyone was struggling for his own position, but most of all struggling to stay upright. Some riders had no experience with that rough surface and suffered. Others neither had experience nor managed to do it very well as Sydney rider Graeme Arnott explained. "I soon found out that when you pedal easily through the sand, you let your bike do the work instead of the legs and it gets easy. I was surprised I did it so well. I appeared to be the best rider behind Boelen."

Arnott, the leader in the masters 1 category (the 30-and-over-year-old riders) would indeed finish the race in second position. "I think I was helped by the absence of Urs Huber. Had there been a fight between Huber and Boelen from the beginning, we would have seen a completely different and much harder race. But I'm not complaining. Second in the queen stage, not bad for just a weekend rider."

On the course, that hadn't been ridden in the Crocodile Trophy for 10 years, there was only one climb and thus one descent. The steepest descent seemed to be made for Korean kamikaze Geeni Yong Choi. He went twice as hard as the others and came closer and closer to the front. In the end, Arnott had to hurry to preserve his second place.

"This was un unbelievable stage," said Choi. "I know that a lot of Koreans are following me on the internet. They will be proud of my podium place today, just as I am."

Austrians Wolfgang Krenn and Josef Benedseder finished fourth and fifth and secured their overall podium places as the number four, Belgian Mulkens, lost about an hour today.

"Already early in the stage, I had mechanical problems. First I thought it was an unwilling chain, but then I saw that there was something wrong with the hub of my rear wheel. As I am no technician, I had to wait at a feed zone for help. Fortunately some guys from the Netherlands, from the Silvis en Vos Team, could help me with a screwdriver and a stone, used as a hammer," said Mulkens.

"Afterwards I caught a lot of riders. Sand is my playground. This is easy for me. My podium is gone, but I have a nice Crocodile Trophy and I still won't give up on winning a stage. Tomorrow is my last chance. I will go for it for my girlfriend who is in hospital right now."

Behind the Austrians, the surprising Gert Maes was beaten in a two-up sprint by the even more surprising Swiss rider Marc Baechli. Baechli is 41, has lived in Brisbane for two years and had attracted riders' attention by his strange upright position on the bike. "As I suffer from a herniated disc, I started mountain biking three years ago. Since then, I have no pain any more in my back and right leg. Mountain biking is my way of dealing with my disease. I may not complain. In the three hardest stages of this stage race, I was the first master 2 (40+) rider."

Tomorrow's last and shortest stage goes from Starke to Cooktown. The town, which was Captain Cook's first landing place in 1777, will welcome all riders after a week of suffering and adventure and with Boelen as the 17th overall winner.

Full Results

Men stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek5:25:43 
2Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea0:07:30 
3Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)0:10:44 
4Josef Benedseder (Aut)  
5Ondrej Slezak (Cze) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing0:29:52 
6Bruno Naessens (Bel)0:36:22 
7Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team0:59:52 
8Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 11:09:49 
9Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com1:10:32 
10Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 11:11:29 
12Sander Van Schuerbeeck (Bel)1:36:19 
11Sam Van De Gucht (Bel)1:36:38 
13Samuel McGregor (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution1:36:40 
14Chris Hellman (Aus)1:49:12 
15Roeland Suys (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team3:11:49 
16Christoph Sokoll (Aut)3:11:56 
17Bram Donckers (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 13:54:28 
Women stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jessica Douglas (Aus)6:51:57 
2Sharman Parr (NZl) kickass2:38:31 
Masters 1 stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com5:32:53 
2Gert Maes (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:06:43 
3Jan Verboven (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:09:28 
4Mark Griffin (Aus) Ashfield Cycles & Rockytrail0:15:37 
5René Haselbacher (Aut)0:22:48 
6Tim Schepens (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc0:33:45 
7Mike Blewitt (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com0:54:31 
8Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution1:02:39 
9Michal Kafka (Aus) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing1:02:58 
10Matthias Schwarze (Ger) The Fitzroy Revolution1:10:11 
11Michal Lanik (Cze)1:16:17 
12Steve Petre (Aus)1:28:21 
13Ki Joong Kim (Kor) Team Korea1:47:53 
14Peter Roelens (Bel)1:54:55 
16Frederic Starck (Bel)2:09:30 
15Laurent Tesch (Bel)2:09:38 
17Michael Taylor (Aus)2:23:21 
18Werner Van Vuuren (Aus)2:28:07 
19Dirk Hörnig (Ger)2:55:38 
20Nicola Gianfranceschi (Ita)2:59:02 
21Andreas Buchegger (Aut)3:00:05 
22Martin Wisata (Aut) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing3:04:47 
23Christophe Demeyere (Bel)4:03:14 
Masters 2 stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marc Baechli (Swi)5:39:36 
2Brad Davies (Aus)0:12:59 
3Carl Maroney (Aus)0:23:53 
4Shaun Portegys (NZl)0:46:41 
5Baelen Guy Van (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc0:54:10 
6Patrick Mensch (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:57:34 
7Rien Montsma (Ned) Silvis en Vos 21:08:37 
8Jeroen Tiebie (Ned) Silvis en Vos1:13:55 
9Johan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos1:39:12 
10Christiaan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos  
11Stéphane Maitrejean (Bel)2:02:55 
12Thomas Holmberg (Den)2:09:22 
13Aloyse Albert Schartz (Lux)2:15:27 
14Blair King (NZl)2:22:35 
15Andrew Chafer (USA) Team Van Be Venture2:50:21 
16Gianni Banterla (Ita)2:52:19 
17John Boswell (Aus)3:06:44 
Masters 3 stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Danieli Team7:13:21 
2Gerhard Grasmugg (Aut)0:18:05 
3Andreas Wittmann (Ger)1:31:09 
4Andrew Radcliffe (Aus)1:31:10 
5Greg Parr (Aus) kickass2:17:07 
Tandem stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Doris Ermens & Lieven Straetmans (Bel)7:30:59 
2Daniele Modolo & Sebastian Favaro (Ita) Il Tandem Italia0:51:50 
Points stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek20 pts
2Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com15 
3Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea10 
4Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)5 
5Josef Benedseder (Aut)2 
Men general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek32:01:37 
2Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)0:55:48 
3Josef Benedseder (Aut)1:04:34 
4Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea1:59:42 
5Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team2:00:01 
6Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com2:56:56 
7Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 13:35:53 
8Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 13:38:31 
9Ondrej Slezak (Cze) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing3:51:27 
10Christoph Sokoll (Aut)4:31:59 
11Bruno Naessens (Bel)4:40:41 
12Samuel McGregor (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution5:48:08 
13Sam Van De Gucht (Bel)8:40:10 
14Sander Van Schuerbeeck (Bel)8:40:27 
15Chris Hellman (Aus)9:20:55 
16Roeland Suys (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team9:41:48 
17Bram Donckers (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 120:37:18 
Women general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jessica Douglas (Aus)39:57:59 
2Sharman Parr (NZl) kickass16:29:16 
Masters 1 general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com33:52:10 
2Mark Griffin (Aus) Ashfield Cycles & Rockytrail0:30:10 
3Jan Verboven (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:37:40 
4Gert Maes (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20111:42:39 
5Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution1:58:00 
6Mike Blewitt (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com2:08:33 
7René Haselbacher (Aut)2:33:13 
8Michal Lanik (Cze)2:53:14 
9Steve Petre (Aus)4:39:20 
10Michal Kafka (Aus) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing4:47:34 
11Tim Schepens (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc4:59:26 
12Ki Joong Kim (Kor) Team Korea6:50:58 
13Matthias Schwarze (Ger) The Fitzroy Revolution6:53:33 
14Peter Roelens (Bel)8:12:48 
15Martin Wisata (Aut) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing9:40:47 
16Werner Van Vuuren (Aus)11:02:10 
17Frederic Starck (Bel)11:15:15 
18Laurent Tesch (Bel)11:15:26 
19Michael Taylor (Aus)12:03:12 
20Andreas Buchegger (Aut)13:12:18 
21Dirk Hörnig (Ger)13:41:02 
22Nicola Gianfranceschi (Ita)18:26:29 
23Christophe Demeyere (Bel)18:31:36 
Masters 2 general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brad Davies (Aus)34:54:47 
2Shaun Portegys (NZl)1:03:35 
3Marc Baechli (Swi)1:17:40 
4Carl Maroney (Aus)1:52:18 
5Patrick Mensch (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20114:41:31 
6Baelen Guy Van (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc4:46:46 
7Johan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos7:15:55 
8Christiaan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos7:15:57 
9Aloyse Albert Schartz (Lux)7:52:21 
10Jeroen Tiebie (Ned) Silvis en Vos8:22:33 
11Thomas Holmberg (Den)8:39:28 
12Stéphane Maitrejean (Bel)10:12:45 
13Rien Montsma (Ned) Silvis en Vos 212:45:42 
14Blair King (NZl)14:13:47 
15John Boswell (Aus)16:09:22 
16Gianni Banterla (Ita)17:08:03 
17Andrew Chafer (USA) Team Van Be Venture32:14:02 
Masters 3 general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Danieli Team41:18:01 
2Gerhard Grasmugg (Aut)3:33:31 
3Andrew Radcliffe (Aus)5:28:31 
4Andreas Wittmann (Ger)5:54:42 
5Greg Parr (Aus) kickass13:28:28 
Tandem general classification after stage 9
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Doris Ermens & Lieven Straetmans (Bel)42:41:53 
2Daniele Modolo & Sebastian Favaro (Ita) Il Tandem Italia4:09:33 
Points classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek125 pts
2Josef Benedseder (Aut)47 
3Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)44 
4Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team22 
4Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 122 
6Christoph Sokoll (Aut)20 
7Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com15 
8Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com12 
8Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea12 
10Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)5 
11Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution2 
Teams classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
2Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20114:49:31 
3The Fitzroy Revolution9:34:12 
4Bernard Rocky Trail Racing13:14:19 
5Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 119:05:07 
6Silvis en Vos22:47:20 
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