Sportsmanship triumphs over ambitions in Croc Trophy

Martin Horak on the road

Martin Horak on the road (Image credit: John Flynn)

By John Flynn in Chillagoe

The fourth stage of the Crocodile Trophy in Australia was made more remarkable than usual by a sporting gesture on the part of the Czech rider Martin Horak, who sacrificed a chance to take the overall classification by stopping to help a competitor.

On the epic 143 kilometre stage from Gunnawarra to the Australian outback town of Chillagoe, Horak was off the front with Belgian Kristof Hertsens, who is racing in the M1 category, separate from Horak's elite group.

Horak, in the most sporting of gestures, rendered assistance when Hertsens crashed and was left bloodied and suffered a deep cut to his elbow after hitting the deck on a technical off-road section.

Horak assisted Hertsens with repairing his damaged bike and checked on the Belgian's injuries before riding alongside him to the finish line. The story of Hertsens and Horak is, in time, sure to take its place in Crocodile Trophy history as one of the great moments of the race.

After being the lead conspirator in a breakaway move that went virtually from the gun, Hertsens (Team Lingier) was happy to settle for second place against the clearly superior Czech – a man for whom he now has the utmost respect.

"I crashed really, really bad and he was coming back and he fixed my bike," Hertsens said. "He then rode in the front and he stayed with me. "He was really strong and when he attacked I could not go with him, but he stayed with me, so I am very happy to finish second."

Horak's selfless act cost him valuable minutes, but he still moved up to second place, just 39 seconds behind teammate Ondrej Fojtik in the general classification.

Also see the full results, report and photos from Friday's Crocodile Trophy stage.

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