Swiss mountainbiker Urs Huber today added his name to the exclusive international list of cyclists who have won Australia’s Crocodile Trophy, after enduring an intense nine-day battle with the great Dutchman Bart Brentjens.
A testament to both the talent and mental strength of the 24-year-old World Championship bronze medallist, Huber rode with such power on today’s final mountain stage in Australia’s Dain-tree that Brentjens was unable to launch an attack to reel in his 1 minute and 26 second lead.
Instead, it was Huber who did the attacking today as the race headed off-road onto the CREB Track, a perilous as-cent into the rainforest that has become part of the Crocodile Trophy’s growing tradition.
“It’s very important, it’s my first win in a stage race and ten days,” an elated Huber said. “When I can say I win the Crocodile Trophy it’s a great thing.”
Huber launched his first attack at the base of the CREB where the gradient is close to 20%. Behind him, the for-mer Olympic and World Champion appeared visibly in pain, but Brentjens refused to give in and continually clawed his way back.
“After the second depot I made the pace and Bart cannot come with me,” Huber said. “So I saw that and I thought that I should roll without risk to the finish.”
That was easier said than done as the Crocodile Trophy ventured onto the zig-zag track, one of the most technical sections of the race. It was there that Brentjens had planned to attack, near the river crossing at Roaring Meg. Huber and Brentjens had already reeled in an early breakaway con-taining Slovenian Jure Robic and Belgian Mike Mulkens.
When the riders reached the river, Huber crossed first, the smile on his face obvious as he realised the Crocodile Trophy was his for the taking.
“I was dropped a few times and I came back and I had to follow him,” Brentjens said. “He (Huber) really put the hammer down and all I could do was follow his wheel, actually there was no chance for me to make an attack.”
There was a degree of consolation for Brentjens as he won the sprint to the finish in Ayton – his sixth stage victory for the Crocodile Trophy of 2009.
“It’s a really nice stage race, Crocodile Trophy to ride, it’s a chal-lenge, an adventure, nice country, nice area, good organisa-tion,” Brentjens said. “I’ve already spoken with Gerhard (Schoenbacher) about next year.
“I like to come back and try to win, now I know a little bit more about the course, maybe I can win it once.”
Full results at www.crocodile-trophy.com