Today's Queen Stage from Atherton to Skybury was once again decided in a finish sprint between Urs Huber and the Belgian Sebastien Carabin. The Swiss race leader Huber claims stage 5 with Carabin staying hot on his wheel.
Stage five from Atherton to Skybury Coffee Plantation is the longest stage in the 2016 Crocodile Trophy and with the elevation profile much flatter than on previous days the race today was full of tactics, fast turns and had riders get a real Outback experience.
After the past days in Atherton with so many metres of elevation to climb and singletrails to race, today was a true "Outback stage" and this year's Queen Stage of the Crocodile Trophy. The day had 130km to race and riders spoke of extreme heat on the open dirt highways, head winds towards the finish, rough terrain and the occasional cooling river crossings.
At the front, race leader Urs Huber (SUI) tried everything to get away from his biggest opponent, Sebastien Carabin (BEL), who was able to stay on his wheel, withstanding all the attacks from the strong Swiss National Marathon Champions.
A bit of bad luck once again for our elite woman, Annemiek van Vleuten. She and the top two in the amateur category, Lincoln Carolan and Daniel Beresford missed a turn, which side-tracked them onto an additional 20km of track before arriving safely - albeit exhausted - at the finish. Annemiek van Vleuten thus drops into third position overall in the elite women's classification with a gap of 1h23 to Pirard and Lincoln Carolan and Daniel Beresford once again swap leader jerseys - Carolan will race stage six in the amateur and Beresford in the Australia leader jersey.
Alice Pirard (BEL) as the first woman across the line again at Skybury increases her overall lead with Ruth Corset (AUS) in second today. Overall Pirard now leads by 1h17 ahead of the Australian Corset.
What the riders said:
Urs Huber SUI - stage winner, defended leader jersey
"I knew the finish from last year and was in front at the deciding moment and then there was no passing me anymore. I did have a slight crash today, nothing serious, just a bit of lack in concentration.
Today was hard, extremely long and windy at the end. It is also relatively hot and just long. The stage didn't have many vertical meters, but it was the length that was tough."
Sebastien Carabin BEL - keeps fighting, didn't loose any time
"Today I just tried to stay with Urs. He had a good day and it was very fast - he tried to attack constantly, but I felt good and could hold on. It was very tactical, because he knew the track at the finish and I didn't, he attacked and passed me in the the final singletrack and it was not possible to go past him anymore, but I stayed close, so it's good.
"The next three stages will be interesting, it's hard for me, because he knows this race so well and also most stages, so I don't really know when to attack. I'll just keep putting the pressure down and we'll see what's possible.
Bas Peters NED - the chaser
"The first two guys are definitely too strong. We have a group of four riders who are at the same level with me - today was very long stage and especially the last part was very flat, so it got very tactical and I actually waited until the last couple of 100m to make an attack and that was a good one.
I didn't know the finish, I've never been here before, so every day is a big surprise for me, but I like it - today we were really in the Australian Outback , big dirt roads, 'nowhere land' it seemed to me.
I have wanted to do this race for a while now and it's such a hard one and Australia is such a big adventure that you have to choose the right moment to do it, I think. Everything is 'a bit special' - the weather the temperature, we are not used to that in Europe.
The recovery after a stage like today is very important - you have to drink a lot, because you sweat so much and just rest, lie still and relax, have good food, yeah, that's it, that's the secret I think..."
Manuel Pliem AUT, best Austrian
"Today was the hardest stage so far, I was with a group all day, but temperature and distance in combination made this the hardest one.
At the beginning there was a climb right away and the pace was really high - I was at the front, but unfortunately my chain came off and even though I was able to fix it quickly those 10 or so seconds are enough to loose the lead group. I joined the chaser group and then it was rolling hills until the finish.
The Crocodile Trophy is a very special challenge for both body and bike, but especially for the body, because it is so extremely hot, which you're not used to from back home and you can't drink as much as you want to. The climate is so different and really exhausting, I noticed that my regeneration is completely different here, that's what I battle with the most here."
Daniel Beresford (AUS) - raced in amateur leader jersey today
"Today was a long day, a couple of us [Beresford, Carolan, van Vleuten] raced 150 instead of the 130km. We took a wrong turn. It was our fault, all three of us missed the sign. It was well marked, but we all missed it doing 45km/h, swapping turns, trying to get some time. Well, I ran out of water and managed to find a creek about 15km before the last feed and just dived into it. Then we made it to here.
"I think a lot of people had trouble today with flats and things like that so it may even itself out in the general classification. It's a tough race. It's hard backing it up day after day.
"The Crocodile Trophy has been a goal for me for about ten years. I've never been fit enough to do it. I was a road rider only, but have been riding mountain bikes the last five years and I had a good coach - Jodie Willett, she'd excellent - she got me ready for this. I spoke to my wife and we had our daughter almost loose her life when she was very little, so I wanted to do this for a charity - I decided to raise money for our local Ronald McDonald House in Wagga Wagga. It's called the Kids' Cottage - I work for Wagga Motors and they came on board very quickly - next minute we have two cars and lots of sign-writing and lots of businesses come on board locally. We've managed to raise over $5,000 dollars to do this race. I'm a bit disappointed that I can't race my own jersey, but I enjoy being in the other jerseys as well. It's been good. We've been raising good money.
"It was great that also the Crocodile Trophy has supported me, sharing my story and link in the lead-up, so I've really enjoyed this journey."
Top Results Elite category:
Top Results Elite Men:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 5h09:11.9
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 5h09:12.9 +1.0
3. #3 Bas PETERS (MijnBadLiv/Giant offroad team) / NED / 5h25:14.5 +16:02.6
4. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 5h25:15.0 +16:03.1
5. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 5h25:15.5 +16:03.6
Top Results Elite Women Stage 5:
1. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 6h35:25.2 +1h26:13.3
2. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 6h35:41.7 +1h26:29.8
3. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 6h44:24.3 +1h35:12.4
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 8h07:37.9 +2h58:26.0
Overall Results Stage 5 Elite Women:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 17h59:03.0
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 18h00:44.7 +1:41.7
3. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 19h01:36.1 +1h02:33.1
4. #3 Bas PETERS (MijnBadLiv/Giant offroad team) / NED / 19h05:41.1 +1h06:38.1
5. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 19h10:19.4 +1h11:16.4
Overall Results Stage 5 Elite Women:
1. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 23h38:08.9
2. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 24h55:19.3 +1h17:10.4
3. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 25h01:29.7 +1h23:20.8
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 28h05:08.4 +4h26:59.5
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Alice Pirard at a river crossing.
Annemiek van Vleuten misses a turn and drops to third position overal.
Daniel Beresford, in amateur leaders jersey will be back in the Australia jersey for Stage 6.
Huber and Carabin keep fighting for the overall lead.
Manuel Pliem - fifth overall now.
Matthias Grick (Aut)
Michiel van Aelbroeck getting stronger, pushing into third overall.
Sebastien Carabin not giving up.
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