Photos © John Flynn – Crocodile Trophy
A hard fought stage win by Tomas Trunschka – his second in three days, ably supported by overall race leader Ondrej Fojtik, solidified the winning position for Czech team VIG+ racing today at the 2008 Crocodile Trophy in Australia’s remote Tropical North.
The brutal 122km mountain stage 3 from the World Heritage rainforest of Koombooloomba Dam to the outback cattle station at Gunnawarra Lagoon took in the greatest variety of terrain and surface conditions likely to be seen at any bike race on the planet.
The attrition rate was understandably high as the protagonists of the Crocodile Trophy fought the elements and their internal demons, with many riders coming to an abrupt realisation of what Australia’s outback classic is really all about.
As expected the Czechs attacked early as the peloton ventured out from Koombooloomba on a picturesque rainforest road and team VIG’s Martin Horak launched the first major assault when the lead bunch entered the famed power line track, which has claimed many victims in this race.
Czech team VIG+ racing continued its complete dominance today at the 2008 Crocodile Trophy with Martin Horak scoring his first stage win and fourth consecutive stage win for his team as the off-road classic reached the Australian outback town of Chillagoe.
The victory will be remembered for all the right reasons, with Horak, in the most sporting of gestures, rendering assistance when his breakaway partner, Kristof Hertsens of Belgium (Team Lingier) crashed.
Hertsens was left bloodied and suffered a deep cut to his elbow after hitting the deck on a techni-cal off-road section of today’s epic 143km stage that started on the coolest of Crocodile Trophy mornings at glorious Gunnawarra lagoon.
In a move that ultimately cost him the lead in the General Classification, Horak assisted Hertsens with repairing his damaged bike and checked on the Belgian’s injuries, before riding alongside him to the finish line. The story of Hertsens and Horak is, in time, sure to take its place in Crocodile Trophy history as one of the great moments of the race.
Czech team VIG+ racing made it five straight stage victories from five attempts today as Ivan Rybarik scored his second stage win at the Crocodile Trophy of 2008.
With the leaders in the general classification taking it easy during today’s 99km “out and back” stage from Chillagoe, VIG+ racing showed its incredible depth at this year’s outback classic by stealing a stage victory with two of its domestiques.
Things didn’t exactly go to plan for the Czechs, when the man chosen to storm to a stage victory, Kejval Lubos, failed to deliver on a course suited to pure time trialists. Instead it was left to his helper Ivan Ry-barik, to blow away the opposition.
“I was supposed to be here as the domestique for Lubos, but now you see the result,” Rybarik said. “I am so happy that I have won the boomerang (the prize for the stage winner) here today.”
Results after five stages
1. Ondrej Fojtik
2. Martin Horak
3. Tomas Trunschka
4. Nicolas Vermeulen
5. Craig Gordon
6. Ivan Rybarik
7. Kris Hertsens
8. Robert Novotny
9. Tomas Kozak
10. Zdenek Kriz
65. Philip Smith GBR
1. Joanne Bennett
2. Karen Steurs
3. Naomi Hansen
Full results at www.crocodile-trophy.com.