Photos © John Flynn – Crocodile Trophy
Czech cyclist Ondrej Fojtik effectively achieved his life’s dream today, winning the Crocodile Trophy in the most emphatic fashion possible, with a victory in the penultimate stage from Cooktown to Ayton on the edge of Australia’s world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest.
Under siege from VIG+ Racing team-mate Martin Horak who attacked again today as the race ventured past the famous “Lions Den Hotel” near Cooktown, Fojtik was forced to prove once and for all that he was the best rider of the 2008 Outback Classic.
The backdrop for the contest could not have been more captivating. The 124 kilometre journey with 1900m of elevation included steep mountain climbs, technical descents and even crocodile inhabited river crossings.
In second place on the General Classification heading into today’s stage, five minutes behind Fojtik, Horak won no friends within his Czech team that rallied to support the race leader in his great moment of need. Tomorrow’s final stage to the rainforest-fringed beach at Cape Tribulation will not be timed, meaning the leader on G.C.
Nicknamed “The Ivanator” by his rivals, Czech strongman Ivan Rybarik pulled huge turns to reel in his renegade team-mate Horak, assisted also by Tomas Trunschka and Fojtik himself, who had more reason than anyone to chase down the move.
At one stage Horak’s lead stretched to more than two minutes, but the combined efforts of Trunschka, Rybarik and Fojtik saw the margin reduced greatly by the time the leaders reached the sec-ond feed zone.
When the moment of truth came as the race ventured upward on a 20% gradient to the legendary CREB Track, Fojtik lifted to another level.
The Czech, who had twice finished second at the Crocodile Trophy in 2004 and 2007, decided it was time to stamp his authority on the race and earn his own rightful place on the list of Crocodile Trophy Champions.
“I am happy that I win the stage and get the boomerang (awarded to the stage winner) because I think it was the most difficult stage of the Crocodile and for me it’s great satisfaction,” Fojtik said. “It was most important that I had Ivan and Tomas Trunschka to help today and I thank them so much, for me their help was the real highlight.”
Results after nine stages
1. Ondrej Fojtik
2. Martin Horak
3. Tomas Trunschka
4. Craig Gordon
5. Nicolas Vermeulen
6. Ivan Rybarik
7. Kris Hertsens
8. Tomas Kozak
9. Robert Novotny
10. Stephens Reece
1. Joanne Bennett
2. Karen Steurs
3. Naomi Hansen
Full results at www.crocodile-trophy.com.