Huber proves strongest during another rainy stage

It took only the one terrible climb to Mount Baldy at the beginning of the stage to make a difference in the outcome of stage 2 of the Crocodile Trophy. Swiss marathon champion Urs Huber needed only 30 minutes to ride away from the others. For the rest of the stage, some 70 lonesome kilometers, he was able to keep and even to increase his advantage.

After another day in the rain, Huber finished with a four-minute lead ahead of Dutch rider Jeroen Boelen, Bart Brentjens' protégé. At the finish line, it was clear that a very bad night was going to lie ahead for the riders as it didn't stop raining onto their small tents. With wind gusts hitting the Croc Trophy camp, news reached riders that it had been the wettest October day in 47 years for North Queensland.

It was not those torrential downpours from Cairns anymore, but it still rained. Heavily. In fact, it never stopped the entire day.

"[It's] very unusual for October and the dry season," even the locals admitted.

The wet red clay from Tully Gorge National Park was responsible for most of the 90 competitors, especially the two hand cyclists, arriving looking like red devils at the finish line. Fortunately, at least the temperature was favourable and right after the start, a nice climb increased heart rates and body temperatures.

"I had watched the roadbook yesterday and had seen that it was a stage that I could win", said Huber. "On paper, I am the strongest climber of all, but every year you have new competitors. Yesterday already in the neutralized stage, I was surprised to see how well the Milka rider [Jeroen Boelen] and one of the Koreans did."

The two-time Crocodile Trophy winner attacked and was gone. In no time, he gained a one-minute advantage to a quartet consisting of two Dutch riders, Huub Duijn and Jeroen Boelen, Belgian Mike Mulkens and Austrian Wolfgang Krenn. The other Austrian, Josef Benedseder, tried to follow the four but blew up. Kevin Hulsmans did not even try to do so. His "diesel needed some time to warm up", as he jokingly admitted. Tom Boonen's former lieutenant climbed very cleverly and consistently and hoped to come back on the descent, but the verdict after the descent and after 35km of racing was a different one.

The solo effort of Huber gave the Swiss rider a two-minute advantage over the three chasers: Boelen, Krenn and Mulkens. At seven minutes, teammates Hulsmans and Duijn, Geeni Yong Choi from Korea, the Austrian riders Sokoll and Benedseder and the surprising Aussie rider Mark Griffin, best Australian rider but also battling for a position at that stage as best master 1 rider in this 17th Crocodile Trophy.

That's why, behind Griffin's back, about one minute behind, other Australian masters organized the chase. Ashley Hayat, Brad Davies, Justin Morris and Arnott Graeme got the help from Chang Min Park and at the last feed zone, at 35km from the finish, just when the group Griffin-Hulsmans stopped to take some drinks and food, they passed them all, without taking fuel.

In the mean time also in the front, some beaten bodies appeared. Not Huber, though, who was powering towards the finish and was even increasing his lead to three minutes. On the contrary - it was the chasing group which litterally exploded.

Boelen said, "Urs was far too strong for us. In that long flat part, following Mount Baldy, we were a group of three, which was our advantage, but still I felt already that Mulkens and Krenn spared some forces. However, when I accelerated at 30km from the finish, I realised that they could not follow me anymore. From then on, I had to chase on my own. The three-minute gap became a four-minute gap, but I should not complain. In mountain bike racing, this is nothing. One bad luck moment for Huber, and we could be starting all over again. That's why I really kept on fighting till the end."

After three hours and 16 minutes in the pouring rain, Huber reached Koombaloomba. The overall victory is still far away, but it is clear that nobody can beat him on those steep and uphill sections. "It looks good, but the race is not over yet," said Huber, who exchanged his national champion's jersey for the red leader's jersey. "What I did today is impossible to repeat every day, and I really need to increase that four-minute lead to race more comfortably. We will see."

With Bart Brentjens still in the race, the situation could have been different. The sick Milka-Trek team owner did not start yesterday because of high fever. "I thought about Bart a lot today", said teammate and number two in the GC Boelen. "Uphill we both cannot follow Huber but we could have helped each other a lot the other 70km. We could have been able to ride two teeth faster."

Wolfgang Krenn from Austria finished third and was happy with the unexpected result. "What should I complain about? Huber is hors categorie, and I only had to pass on that acceleration of the Milka guy. It's far too early to dream of the final podium, but I will go for it. But please, can you give us some better weather?"

Note: The Australians, with Ashley Hayat, Brad Davies and Jessica Douglas, are leading the GCs in the M1, M2 and women categories. Best M3 rider is Pio Tomaseli from Italy. The Crocodile Trophy again will be missing a rider at the start line as Dirk Abeloos crashed. The Belgian rider broke the neck of the femur. He will undergo surgery in Cairns on Thursday.

When the Crocodile Trophy tomorrow heads to Irvinebank (instead of Gunnawarra as previously planned), it will leave the rain forest. The weather should be better then.

Full results for stage 2 and GC after stage 2 (stage 1 was neutralized)

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Urs Huber (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team3:16:30
2Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Milka-Trek0:03:56
3Wolfgang Krenn (Aut)0:11:43
4Mike Mulkens (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team0:17:56
5Justin Morris (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com0:19:49
6Christoph Sokoll (Aut)
7Huub Duyn (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 10:19:50
8Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1
9Josef Benedseder (Aut)0:19:51
10Geeni Yong Choi (Kor) Team Korea0:19:52
11Chang Min Park (Kor) Team Korea0:34:49
12Samuel McGregor (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution0:39:52
13Ondrej Slezak (Cze) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing0:48:38
14Bruno Naessens (Bel)0:50:15
15Roeland Suys (Bel) Kipeo MTB Team1:08:49
16Sam Van De Gucht (Bel)1:17:24
17Sander Van Schuerbeeck (Bel)1:17:25
18Chris Hellman (Aus)1:19:03
19Bram Donckers (Bel) Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 12:23:50
DNSBart Brentjens (Ned) Milka-Trek Mountain Bike Racing team
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jessica Douglas (Aus)4:20:18
2Sharman Parr (NZl) kickass2:13:09
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#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Patrik Doak (USA) Team Van Be Venture
1Carlos Moleda (USA) Team Van Be Venture
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ashley Hayat (Aus) The Fitzroy Revolution3:36:42
2Mark Griffin (Aus) Ashfield Cycles & Rockytrail0:05:21
3Arnott Graeme (Aus) Subaru/MarathonMTB.com0:06:04
4Jan Verboven (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:14:35
5Michal Lanik (Cze)0:18:42
6Mike Blewitt (Aus) Subaru/
7René Haselbacher (Aut)0:18:44
8Matthias Schwarze (Ger) The Fitzroy Revolution0:24:12
9Michal Kafka (Aus) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing0:28:26
10Gert Maes (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:40:56
11Steve Petre (Aus)0:42:19
12Ki Joong Kim (Kor) Team Korea0:46:26
13Martin Wisata (Aut) Bernard Rocky Trail Racing0:52:44
14Tim Schepens (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc0:57:13
15Werner Van Vuuren (Aus)0:58:32
16Peter Roelens (Bel)1:00:23
17Andreas Buchegger (Aut)1:12:32
18Michael Taylor (Aus)1:30:42
19Christophe Demeyere (Bel)1:47:04
20Nicola Gianfranceschi (Ita)1:50:58
21Laurent Tesch (Bel)1:57:23
22Frederic Starck (Bel)
23Dirk Hörnig (Ger)2:04:14
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brad Davies (Aus)3:36:19
2Marc Baechli (Swi)0:15:47
3Shaun Portegys (NZl)0:19:08
4Carl Maroney (Aus)0:28:36
5Markus Frey (Swi)0:53:57
6Patrick Mensch (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc team 20110:56:19
7Baelen Guy Van (Bel) Den Outback 4bikes croc0:57:33
8Aloyse Albert Schartz (Lux)1:10:52
9Jeroen Tiebie (Ned) Silvis en Vos1:29:57
10Johan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos1:29:58
11Christiaan Van Splunter (Ned) Silvis en Vos1:29:59
12John Boswell (Aus)1:32:38
13Gianni Banterla (Ita)1:51:22
14Stéphane Maitrejean (Bel)1:57:45
15Thomas Holmberg (Den)2:04:37
16Blair King (NZl)2:08:02
17Rien Montsma (Ned) Silvis en Vos 22:11:31
DNFJakob Steen-Peterson (Den) HMTBK Sram
DNFPaul Riedo (Swi) Tröhler/ Stevens Bike
DNFDirk Abeloos (Bel)
DNFAndrew Chafer (USA) Team Van Be Venture
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pio Tomasetig (Ita) Danieli Team4:35:14
2Dennis Bowen-Day (Aus)0:21:47
3Andrew Radcliffe (Aus)0:29:22
4Gerhard Grasmugg (Aut)0:39:46
5Marc Desender (Bel) Team Marc Desender0:54:14
6Andreas Wittmann (Ger)0:58:50
7Ronny Potter (Bel) Ronny Potter1:21:06
8Greg Parr (Aus) kickass1:58:13
9Anton Wachter (Aut)2:06:33
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Doris Ermens & Lieven Straetmans (Bel)5:05:00
2Daniele Modolo & Sebastian Favaro (Ita) Il Tandem Italia0:26:50

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