South Africa's Alan Gordon increased his overall lead at the 2019 Crocodile Trophy on Tuesday, winning the 98km fourth stage by 3:12 over Dutchman Bart Classens, with the race's early leader, Australia's Michael England, finishing almost four minutes down, which leaves him 5:55 behind Gordon overall.
Classens' second place on the stage moved him up another place on the GC to third, leapfrogging Spain's Brandan Marquez Fernandez, with both riders now just over 12 minutes off Gordon's race lead at the half-way mark of the eight-stage Australian MTB race.
Elite women's category leader Angelika Tazreiter continues to move up on the overall classification, and is now 11th after a strong day on the long 'queen stage' based on a circuit around Wondecla.
"This was definitely the most difficult stage so far. It was a long day with 5:40-plus hours of riding. The trails were hard but enjoyable, going through river crossings... It was awesome," Gordon said in a race press release, with the heat moving race commissaires to add extra feed zones to the stage and to offer riders lower down the classification the option to complete a shortened, 56km stage, with their times adjusted accordingly.
"Today was tough. It took quite some time to reach the mountain bike park in the morning with long, slow climbs, and there were quite a lot of sandy sections where I had to get off the bike," said women's leader Tazreiter. "That climb in the mountain bike park took its toll for me, and to reach those feed zones was a real relief every time."
Austria's Lucas Kaufmann, who finished eighth on the stage, and sits seventh overall, added: "I prepared myself mentally for a tough day, and must admit that this was an incredible experience. I have competed in a lot of races, but this was something else...
"It was such a long stage – I was on the bike for 6 hours and 25 minutes – and the heat was incredible, so I was so happy to reach the feed zones to get more water. All in all, today was one of the hardest marathons I've ever done," he said.
Wednesday's stage 5 is the longest stage of the race at 120km, from Wondecla to Skybury, but with only half as much climbing compared to stage 4.
|1||Alan Gordon (RSA||05:43:11|
|2||)Bart Classes (Ned)||0:03:12|
|3||Brandan Marquez Fernandez (Spa)||0:03:57|
|4||Michael England (Aus)||0:03:58|
|5||Stijn Van Boxstael (Bel)||0:31:38|
|6||Alex Malone (Aus)||0:39:12|
|7||Lukas Kaufmann (Aut)||0:42:27|
|8||Carel van Wyk (RSA)||1:01:46|
|1||Angelika Tazreiter (Aut)||7:06:52|
|1||Alan Gordon (RSA)||15:32:20|
|2||Michael England (Aus)||0:05:55|
|3||Bart Classens (Ned)||0:12:05|
|4||Brandan Marquez Fernandez (Spa)||0:12:14|
|5||Stijn Van Boxstael (Bel)||0:56:07|
|6||Lukas Kaufmann (Aut)||1:14:05|
|7||Alex Malone (Aus)||1:14:27|
|8||Carel van Wyk (RSA)||2:46:51|
|1||Angelika Tazreiter (Aut)||18:50:24|
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