Huber gets one back on Brentjens

Swiss mountain biker Urs Huber took a glorious win in the Crocodile Trophy's Queen stage from Laura to Cooktown and in the process, further extended his race lead over Dutchman Bart Brentjens by 25 seconds. The performance from the World Marathon Championship bronze medallist oozed class, on a day when the physical and mental capabilities of every rider remaining in the race were tested to the limit over a hellish 140-kilometre journey.

Conditions along the much feared Battle Camp Road between Laura and Cooktown proved to be far worse than predicted, with a 50-kilometre section of deep corrugations and sand, sapping all available energy from even the fittest and strongest of protagonists.

In the end, Huber, Brentjens and veteran Czech Milan Spolc prevailed as the race ventured headlong into the South-East tradewinds along the coast near Cooktown.

Timing his move to perfection, Huber launched an attack at the base of the steep one-kilometre climb to the summit of Cooktown's Grassy Hill, where he held his bike aloft to celebrate a glorious stage victory.

"It's very nice place, and I knew that the last kilometre today was good for me, so I concentrated on this," Huber said as he peered out across the Pacific Ocean. "Bart pushed very hard in the corrugations after depot 2. I had to fight to make contact with him."

Huber took 20 seconds out of Brentjens on the climb and earned a further five seconds in time bonuses to extend his margin in the general classification to one minute and 26 seconds. Mike Mulkens of Belgium finished the stage in third after Spolc faded towards the finish.

The Swiss cyclist knows Brentjens will need to find something special on tomorrow's mountainous and technical stage from Cooktown to Ayton to rope in his main rival. But he also knows not to underestimate the class of the former Olympic and World Champion, who will attack in an instant if the right opportunity presents itself.

"I will fight with all I can," Huber said. "Tomorrow is good for me with steep climbs and good downhill. I think it's a good stage for me."

Huber wins the queen stage

Ever the strategist, Brentjens again turned to studying his race book in the evening following today's stage, searching for likely points along the technical zig-zag track to launch an attack. At the same time, he was trying to recover from today's pounding, which was one of the most brutal he has dealt with in a long and celebrated career.

"When the corrugations started, they never ended it was more than 30, 40 k's loose sand and corrugation, it was terrible to ride," a weary Brentjens said. "I tried to get away from Urs Huber once, it was a good attack but he came back."

Brentjens is certain of one thing for tomorrow's stage nine, in which the general classification will be decided. He will attack Huber, the only question is when and where.

"I think definitely I'm going to make an attack. I will do it," Brentjens affirmed. "I don't know, he's strong and he survives every day, I didn't expect he would be as strong as he is so far."

"Tomorrow it's another stage, another chance, so yeah let's get it on."

Steve Rankine and Isaac Tonello, both of the Tropical Tableland Discovery Team, were the highest placed Australians today in ninth and 10rh. The pair are now both situated in the top 10 overall, with Tonello rating this as one of his toughest Crocodile Trophy outings.

"I don't know how to describe how rough it was, corrugations a foot deep sometimes, seems like it went on for fifty k's, tough, tough, real tough," Tonello said. "It's a true Crocodile Trophy stage, way more brutal than last year."

Pleyer breaks through for a victory

After eight stages, the beaming smile of Austria's Lisa Pleyer, last seen before the start of the Crocodile Trophy, finally returned this evening.

Pleyer managed to hang onto the peloton containing women's race leader Monique Zeldenrust and Australia's Abby McLennan, then hung with Zeldenrust on the climb of Grassy Hill, to claim the Trophy's Queen Stage.

"Today was the first time that I can honestly say at this race that I enjoyed myself," Pleyer said. "It was like a real race today, the riders swapping turns, it was so good to win here too."

McLennan and her Rattle & Hum team suffered numerous technical problems today with brake fail-ure followed by flat tyres and minor crashes.


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Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Urs Huber (Swi) Team Stöckli-Craft4:59:59
2Bart Brentjens (Ned) Trek-Brentjens MTB racing team0:00:20
3Mike Mulkens (Bel)0:01:29
4Jurij Robic (Slo) Matej & Jure0:12:58
5Kai Hundertmark (Ger) Dream Team0:13:25
6Tomas Kozak (Cze) Di-ELCOM-Outdoor sports club0:13:34
7Steve Rankine (Aus) Tropical Tablelands Discovery0:13:48
8Daris Zubani (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura0:42:58
9Shane Taylor (Aus) ADCC/Rocky Trail Entertainment0:44:36
10Morten Larsen (Den) Team Sun-Print1:03:29
11James Banner-Smith (Aus) Rattle N Hum1:31:04
12Ivan Negro (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura1:37:46
13Christoph Kirchmeier (Aut)1:41:29
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Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lisa Pleyer (Aut) Roadbike Holidays - KTM6:10:10
2Monique Zeldenrust (Ned)0:00:08
3Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum0:09:52
4Eva Hasek (Cze) Outdoor sports club1:39:04
5Sharman Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine2:16:02
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Master men 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Valdiek (Ger) JRV Team Deutsche Sepsisgesellschaft5:13:20
2Isaac Tonello (Aus)0:00:34
3Nikolaus Syc (Ger)0:20:39
4Glen De Bont (Bel) Shifting Gears0:32:34
5Franz Preihs (Aut) Radsport Kotnik-Focus0:39:56
6Sam Nathan (Aus) Team Nathan0:55:13
7Sam Brovender (Can) Team SDC Chris NicholsonRow 6 - Cell 2
8Raimund Burböck (Aut)0:55:20
9Per Imer (Den) Team Sun-Print0:58:31
10Dennis Bergen (Den) Team Sun-Print1:00:10
11Ron Whitehead (Aus) Ron Whitehead1:06:42
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Master men 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Milan Spolc (Cze) Dream Team5:06:45
2Branko Grah (Aut) Team RC Sereno0:25:40
3Günter Weichbold (Aut)0:38:20
4Erich Reith (Aut)0:38:25
5Pieter van Rooyen SAF Team Van Rooyen0:50:41
6Chris Nicholson (Aus) Team SDC Chris Nicholson1:01:48
7Josef Neururer (Swi) Velolade-Hittnau.ch1:05:29
8Yvan Vekemans (Bel) Belgian Power/GranvilleRow 7 - Cell 2
9Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Team Tomesetig1:13:00
10Scott McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum1:13:11
11Kees Zuidhoek (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop1:15:51
12Rudolf Hansgut (Cze)1:44:23
13Jörg Steenbock (Ger) WINGSforLife.com1:47:44
14Mohammed Boufessile (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville1:49:46
15Marten Zeldenrust (Ned)2:05:30
16Bernhard Weixelbaum (Aut) Team RC Sereno2:42:34
17Hennie Schoonheim (Ned)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Paul van Hattem (Ned) Team Kees FietsshopRow 17 - Cell 2
19Geert Matthijs (Bel) Team MatthysRow 18 - Cell 2
20Andrew Graham (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness MedicineRow 19 - Cell 2
21Willemjan Hopstaken (Ned) Team Kees FietsshopRow 20 - Cell 2
22Aaron Pickett-Heaps (Aus)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Theo Molenbrugge (Ned) Theo MolenbruggeRow 22 - Cell 2
24Erwin Klocker (Aus)3:15:26
25Heinz von Holzen (Swi)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Greg Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine3:19:27
27Jan van Baast (Ned)3:21:15
28Erik Stokman (Ned)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Chris Neal (Aus)4:35:39
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Z-E Bike
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Klaus Sever (Aut) Radsport Weichberger BionX8:44:03
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Team Sun-Print6:03:28
2Rattle N Hum0:27:35
3Team Kees Fietsshop1:45:51
4Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine2:22:44
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Elite men general classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Urs Huber (Swi) Team Stöckli-Craft29:33:39
2Bart Brentjens (Ned) Trek-Brentjens MTB racing team0:01:26
3Mike Mulkens (Bel)1:03:51
4Jurij Robic (Slo) Matej & Jure1:27:44
5Tomas Kozak (Cze) Di-ELCOM-Outdoor sports club1:51:29
7Kai Hundertmark (Ger) Dream Team2:33:48
9Steve Rankine (Aus) Tropical Tablelands Discovery2:47:05
13Shane Taylor (Aus) ADCC/Rocky Trail Entertainment4:18:09
18Daris Zubani (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura4:48:50
23Morten Larsen (Den) Team Sun-Print7:10:02
25Ivan Negro (Ita) Neviprogettoavventura7:36:17
37James Banner-Smith (Aus) Rattle N Hum9:07:42
38Christoph Kirchmeier (Aut)9:51:02
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Elite women general classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
22Monique Zeldenrust (Ned)36:22:12
29Lisa Pleyer (Aut) Roadbike Holidays - KTM37:46:45
32Abby McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum38:04:17
45Eva Hasek (Cze) Outdoor sports club44:44:39
53Sharman Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine49:42:21
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Master 1 men general classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
8Isaac Tonello (Aus) Tropical Tablelands Discovery32:17:34
10Alexander Valdiek (Ger) JRV Team Deutsche Sepsisgesellschaft32:36:01
12Nikolaus Syc (Ger)33:03:36
15Raimund Burböck (Aut)34:12:33
16Glen De Bont (Bel) Shifting Gears34:19:21
17Franz Preihs (Aut) Radsport Kotnik-Focus34:20:11
20Sam Nathan (Aus) Team Nathan35:05:44
24Per Imer (Den) Team Sun-Print36:49:16
27Sam Brovender (Can) Team SDC Chris Nicholson37:27:25
34Dennis Bergen (Den) Team Sun-Print38:13:57
35Ron Whitehead (Aus) Ron Whitehead38:26:47
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Master 2 men general classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
6Milan Spolc (Cze) Dream Team31:42:31
11Branko Grah (Aut) Team RC Sereno32:54:47
14Erich Reith (Aut)33:59:41
19Günter Weichbold (Aut)34:33:19
21Pieter van Rooyen SAF Team Van Rooyen36:05:14
26Chris Nicholson (Aus) Team SDC Chris Nicholson37:15:16
28Josef Neururer (Swi) Velolade-Hittnau.ch37:40:38
30Yvan Vekemans (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville37:55:30
31Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Team Tomesetig37:57:56
33Scott McLennan (Aus) Rattle N Hum38:06:06
36Kees Zuidhoek (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop38:39:20
39Rudolf Hansgut (Cze)40:18:57
40Jörg Steenbock (Ger) WINGSforLife.com41:07:28
41MohammedBoufessile (Bel) Belgian Power/Granville41:31:49
42Marten Zeldenrust (Ned)41:46:02
43Bernhard Weixelbaum (Aut) Team RC Sereno42:42:11
44Geert Matthijs (Bel) Team Matthys42:48:37
46Theo Molenbrugge (Ned) Theo Molenbrugge44:52:15
47Hennie Schoonheim (Ned)46:22:59
48Aaron Pickett-Heaps (Aus)46:27:49
49Paul van Hattem (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop46:38:30
50Andrew Graham (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine46:39:03
51Willemjan Hopstaken (Ned) Team Kees Fietsshop46:45:34
52Greg Parr (Aus) Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine48:33:48
54Heinz von Holzen (Swi)50:23:00
55Erwin Klocker (Aus)50:24:29
56Jan van Baast (Ned)51:19:16
57Erik Stokman (Ned)51:55:09
58Chris Neal (Aus)54:25:00
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Points classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Bart Brentjens (Ned)130pts
2Urs Huber (Swi)115Row 1 - Cell 3
3Mike Mulkens (Bel)47Row 2 - Cell 3
4Jurij Robic (Slo)39Row 3 - Cell 3
5Josh Prete (Aus)12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Tomas Kozak (Cze)10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Milan Spolc (Cze)5Row 6 - Cell 3
8Steve Rankine (Aus)4Row 7 - Cell 3
9Kai Hundertmark (Ger)2Row 8 - Cell 3
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Teams classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Team Sun-Print111:46:54
2Rattle N Hum3:04:50
3Team Kees Fietsshop20:16:30
4Jungle Patrol; Wilderness Medicine33:08:18


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