Displaying the character that led him to Olympic and World Championships, Dutchman Bart Brent-jens today left his Crocodile Trophy rivals in awe by winning a third consecutive stage of Australia’s Outback Classic.
It was the method of Sir Bart’s victory, a display of true courage that saw the great man haul back a deficit of five minutes after suffering an early puncture, that had fellow competitors reaching for superlatives.
Slovenia’s four-time Race Across America winner Jure Robic perhaps summed it up best when he said he was “a better man for having met Bart Brentjens at the Crocodile Trophy.”
“He is a man of class, a man of pure character,” Robic said.
Brentjen’s desire to win Australia’s Outback Classic was there for all to see today, when he punctured shortly be-fore the first checkpoint.
A split in a tyre sidewall, caused by one of many sharp rocks on the course cost the four-time Olympian close to five minutes. What happened next will become part of Crocodile Trophy folklore. Brentjens stepped on the gas and rode past two small pelotons of riders, before catching the front group containing race leader Urs Huber.
“He was like a motorbike,” Australian Isaac Tonello said after Brentjens blew past the chase groups.
Realising his goal of winning the Trophy was on the line, Brentjens had no choice but to give his all.
<p“I have it 100% to go to them,” Brentjens said at stage end.
“You don’t know in that situation how fast they are going so you have to give it absolutely every-thing and ride to your limit.”