It was sure to be only a matter of time before the great Dutchman Bart Brentjens stamped his winning seal on the Crocodile Trophy of 2009 and that occasion arrived promptly today when the former Olympic and World Champion made easy work of the second stage to Granite Gorge on Australia’s Tropical Tableland.
The victory came at the end of a relatively short but nonetheless eventful 71 kilometre stage, that featured a climb to the 1200 metre summit of Mount Edith shortly after the race start.
The course for stage two needed to be cleared of fallen trees over the weekend after bushfires swept through the forest country. What riders and organisers hadn’t counted on was an overnight downpour at the Lake Tinaroo campsite that brought down more trees over the track, blocking the path for riders after the first ten kilometres of climbing.
At the point that the race was re-started, five riders were in the hunt for stage honours after watching most of the peloton disappear from their rear view mirror on the lower slopes.
The select group was stacked with class and included Brent-jens, race leader Urs Huber and ultra-tough Slovenian Jure Robic. Also showing their talent were Belgian Mike Mulkens and the youngest rider in the race, Josh Prete of the Tropical Tableland Discovery team who had scouted the stage several times in training.
With just 50 kilometres of undulating country roads remaining on the transitional stage before the Crocodile Trophy heads seriously outback, the finale came down to a technical sprint finish on dirt, which suited Brentjens just fine.
“I’m very happy it wasn’t that difficult as yesterday, the last 10 kilometres was real fast with the wind at the back, a tailwind,” Brentjens said.
“Most of the time in mountainbiking it’s always hectic with some turns at the end, so I was leading the last k and took some risks in the corners very fast, and they couldn’t catch me before the line.”