After eight hard days of racing the Crocodile Trophy racers crossed the finish line on Four Mile Beach today! Urs Huber is the fastest man on the time trial course and the overall Elite Men's winner 2016. With a gap of 1:48min ahead of the Belgian Sebastien Carabin he claims his fourth race title after 2009, 2010 and 2015. With Annemiek van Vleuten winning today's stage, Alice Pirard successfully defends her overall lead on the short but challenging track from Wetherby into Port Douglas and is the Women's Elite winner this year.
The 22nd Crocodile Trophy finished after eight days of racing through its home in Tropical North Queensland in Port Douglas today. The legendary event started last Saturday in Cairns with a lap race at the Smithfield MTB Park and continued onto the Atherton Tablelands on Sunday. It was the climb onto the Atherton Tablelands and the tough undulating course of the second stage was the hardest, the riders all agreed. Three stages were raced in the Atherton MTB Park and also in the Herberton State Forest and surrounds, very technical and demanding on the riders.
From the rainforests in Cairns into the bushlands of the Tablelands and via the so iconic Outback to Skybury Coffee Plantation was next on the stage plan. The racers enjoyed two nights in the tropical Skybury estate and raced through the Mareeba Wetlands on Thursday.
Yesterday the race stopped over at Wetherby Station after a marathon stage via open Outback Highways - a fast race in glistening heat. Today the riders were in for a treat - a 30km timetrial down the infamous "Bump Track" from Wetherby Station into the holiday paradise of Port Douglas with the final finish on the beautiful Four Mile Beach.
Urs Huber wins his fourth Crocodile Trophy title
The Swiss Marathon National Champion today claimed his fourth Crocodile Trophy victory after winning before in 2009, 2010 and last year. Only one man before him has won this legendary race four times, Jaap Viergever from The Netherlands (1997, 1999, 2001 & 2002).
He said the race was a tough mind game for him this week clocking in a total of 23h52:51.6.
"The week was really tough, not physically but mentally because the gap [to Sebastien Carabin] was always really small and I had to stay concentrated for the whole week. I couldn't make any mistakes - I could manage that really well and so, the win is here.
He complimented his biggest opponent Sebastien Carabin as being equally as strong. "We both were very strong. He just had one bad day and I didn't. And in the end, that was the difference."
The "bad day" was stage two from Cairns to Atherton, which pushed most of the riders to their absolute limits. A long stage in very hot and particularly humid conditions, so hard that even a world-class rider like Sebastien Carabin suffered and ultimately cost him too much time.
Overall, only 1:48 minutes separated the top two finishers of the 2016 event with Huber taking today's stage in 52:59.3 with a gap of five seconds to second-placed Carabin.
With an incredible performance in today's time trial the Belgian Michiel van Aelbroeck defended his third position overall and has a gap of 1h05 to Huber. The 40-year old Dutch racer Bas Peters took out fourth (+1h11:05.4) and the Austrian Matthias Pliem came in fifth (+1h16:29.0).
Alice Pirard wins the Women's Trophy
The Belgian Marathon National Champion finishes her 2016 season with a win at the Crocodile Trophy, her second appearance at the legendary stage race. With strong performances all week she dominated the technical stages and the dark horse, but well-known rider, in the field Annemiek van Vleuten was a strong opponent. The Dutch Olympic road racer had claimed to "race the Crocodile Trophy as a holiday", but half-way through the week caught the racing bug on the flat and less-technical stages.
Twice riddled with bad luck by missing turns and loosing a lot of time, Annemiek van Vleuten still claimed three stage wins and was the fastest woman in today's time trial with 1h03:45.6.
Overall the women's result has Alice Pirard finishing with 30h34:45.0 ahead of van Vleuten (+44:15) and the Australian road racer Ruth Corset (+1h06:27).
The marathon specialist Sarah Kaehler from Cairns came in fourth (+5h39:57).
What the riders said:
Michel van Aelbrock & Alice Pirard (BEL) - 3rd Elite Men and Women's Champion
Michel - It's really great, it's amazing that I could go back and ride the last kilometre with Alice. It was beautiful.
Alice - It's just unforgettable this moment, it's so great. I'm happy that Michiel did so well also.
Michel - It's better to enjoy the event together and not ride it as a team. Because if you ride it as a team then it's really hard to remain good partners.
Alice - I agree. So far we haven't tried to ride in a pair as yet. It's just great to ride solo and live together in the camp and eat together and chilling.
Alice Pirard (BEL) - Elite Women's Champion
"This is super, so fantastic. This finish is just amazing, just unforgettable here on the beach and on top of it all, to win the event here in this location, is just amazing.
"We [Michiel van Aelbroeck and Alice] will stay for a bit longer here in Queensland, it's such a long way from home, we thought we'd enjoy the warm weather here a bit longer."
Sebastien Carabin (BEL) - 2nd Overall
"I'm happy about my placing in the general classification. But after today also a little bit disappointed - only 5 seconds behind him [Huber]. But it's good.
"For Urs it would have been unusual [today's time trial stage] and I'm happy that I was able to put a bit of pressure on him. I'm not too far away from him and without my bad second day it might have been a bit different.
"I hope I can come back - I've gained some experience here now, I know my mistakes of the second stage and I won't do the same next time. I know how to race next time."
Urs Huber - Elite Men's Champion 2016
"It's really nice to win again because the Crocodile Trophy is a famous race all over the world and everybody knows about it and to win it for a fourth time is really incredible.
"The week was really tough, not physically but mentally because the gap was always really small and I had to stay concentrated for the whole week. I couldn't make any mistakes - I could manage that really well and so, the win is here.
"I went fullgas today, not in the downhill because today the risk was just too high to loose. So I was really careful there, but in the flat sections and on the uphills I went fullgas. And I was hoping for the stage win too and this has happened now also so it's a really good day.
"I knew to watch out for Sebastien - I think it was a really good race also for the spectators because it was so close everyday. We were both really strong. He just had one bad day and I didn't. And in the end, that was the difference."
Top Results Elite category:
Top Results Elite Men Stage 8:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 0h52:59.3
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 0h53:04.7 +0:05
3. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 0h55:13.2 +2:13
4. #2 Matthias Grick (KTM Ebner Transporte Cycling Team Graz) / AUT / 0h56:01.5 +3:02
5. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 0h56:05.6 +3:06
Top Results Elite Women Stage 8:
1. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 1h03:45.6
2. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 1h05:30.1 +1:44
3. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 1h09:57.0 +6:11
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 1h17:38.3 +13:52
Overall Results Stage 8 Elite Men:
1. #11 Urs HUBER (Team Bulls) / SUI / 23h52:51.6
2. #1 Sebastien CARABIN (merida wallonie-Vojo Mag) / BEL / 23h54:39.6 +1:48
3. #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK (WMTB.be) / BEL / 24h58:44.0 +1h05:52.4
4. #3 Bas PETERS (MijnBadLiv/Giant offroad team) / NED / 25h03:57.0 +1h11:05.4
5. #10 Manuel PLIEM (Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE) / AUT / 25h09:20.6 +1h16:29.0
Overall Results Stage 8 Elite Women:
1. #21 Alice PIRARD (Merida-Wallonie MTB Team) / BEL / 30h34:45.0
2. #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Orica-AIS / Scott) / NED / 31h19:00.2 +44:15
3. #25 Ruth CORSET / AUS / 31h41:12.4 +1h06:27
4. #23 Sarah KAEHLER (Astute Financial Racing Team) / AUS / 36h14:41.7 +5h39:57
Further leader jersey winners:
Amateur & A3 category winner men: Daniel Beresford (AUS / Croc For Kids) in 28h21:38.2
Fastest Australian & A2 winner: Lincoln Carolan (AUS / Astute Financial Racing Team) in 28h38:23.4
A4 category winner men: Garry James (AUS / Specialized Australia) 29h39:09.8
A1 category winner men: Blake Coppo (AUS / Corry Cycles ACE rACEing) in 32h59:30.0
Amateur women: Anita Narula (AUS / Liv Cycling) in 34h00:52.0
High-res media photos:
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Photos: Crocodile Trophy/Regina Stanger
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>> On the Podium: Urs Huber (SUI), Alice Pirard (BEL) - our Crocodile Trophy 2016 Champions with Croc Staff.
>> Arrival Urs Huber at the finish.
>> Arrival Alice Pirard at the finish.
>> Arrival Sebastien Carabin at the finish.
>> Urs Huber and Sebastien Carabin shake hands.
>> The Crocodile Trophy Class of 2016 at the finish in Port Douglas.
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