Huber and van Vleuten take the elite race wins in Atherton

By Rocky Trail Media

Urs Huber crossed the line in Atherton as the winner of Stage 2 of the 2016 Crocodile Trophy. Sebastien Carabin (BEL) comes in second (+3:50min) and the Austrian Manuel Pliem in third. The Dutch Olympic road racer Annemik van Vleuten wins the elite women's category ahead of Alice Pirard (BEL) in second (+28:45min) and Ruth Corset from Australia (+44:37min).

The word used most often by the riders arriving at the finish at Atherton's Coombra Station was 'brutal'. The Crocodile Trophy lived up to its reputation as the "hardest mountain bike stage race" on earth. Today's stage started with neutral ride out of Cairns towards the escarpment where the official start gun went and riders started the first tough climb towards Copperlode Dam. Then the elevation profile was full of steep pinches and hills - 2500vm were to cover in the one day. The final stretch after the last feedzone took even the elite riders well over an hour - strong headwinds making it very difficult to keep up a rhythm.

The front group were riding at a breakneck pace - according to Manuel Bliem who placed in third, they were riding at 600 Watts on the first climb, pushing really hard. Urs Huber (SUI) and Sebastien Carabin (BEL) in the leader's jersey were able to get away though, riding together until just before the finish when Huber attacked, won the stage and is now the new race leader.

Of Carabin today's stage winner Urs Huber said that he had raced a clever race, staying with him all day. "I was able to get away with about 5km to go. Today was really long and hot and the headwind in the end was really tough", he admitted.

Sebastien Carabin said, "It was difficult, but I knew I had to ride with Urs, but he was stronger than me and was in front most of the time. The first climb was so tough and then it was very hilly and really, today was 10km too long for me. We were together all day, but then he attacked at the last climb and I couldn't hang on. Then I just tried to finish as fast as I could, but was already very tired. It will be tough to recover from today."

Manuel Bliem was happy to be at the finish, "Today was a very hot stage. Half-way through the race i looked at my computer and it said 38 degrees. I rode more than 100km on my own, I just couldn't hang onto the first two, but I tried not to overdo it and preserver some energy for the next few days so I'm really happy with my placing. It was very windy towards the end and so hot, I tried to drink everyhting I could get - I think I drank 11 bottles today and still it seemed not enough."
The Dutch Olympic rider was adamant to be at the Crocodile Trophy to enjoy new places in Australia, the home country of her team, in the saddle of her bike, claiming yesterday, "This is my vacation after a tough season back home." But today her endurance skill definitely played in her favour.

"Today didn't feel like a vacation, because I suffered a lot, but still, I enjoyed the ride. The first part of riding in the peloton together was the best to just follow the guys up on top of the first hill, when it got really steep I just tried to keep my own pace - it was a bit better for me, not as scary as yesterday technically, but it's good for me to develop my mountain bike skills a bit. I don't mind it. I like riding with the others, like Lincoln (Carolan) today, I'm here to have a ride together with people so that's what I enjoyed most."
As the first Australian and amateur racer across the line, Lincoln Carolan from Cairns was happy to be at the finish. He had battled all day by himself when Annemiek van Vleute caught up to him and for 30km they rode together towards the finish.

"Today was just brutal. I stayed with the front group on the first climb, but when we got to Copperlode Dam they just really put the hammer down. I was by myself for most of the day, but then I saw Annemiek [van Vleuten] coming up behind me and I slowed down and we rode for about 30km together - she is so strong, you can tell she is one of the world's best time trial riders. We worked together and with about 15km to go she started to cramp a little bit so I said just stick on my wheel as long as you can. I'm happy that I'm through. I'm only smiling because I won."

Organiser Gerhard Schoenbacher said that he didn't expect this stage to be so hard on his riders, "It is about 25km longer than in recent years, because we rode directly to Coombra Station instead of staying overnight at Lake Tinaroo. It seems that exactly that part of the stage was what hurt most racers the most, but we'll look after them tonight and make sure they recover well." He added that a small group of racers would be picked up at the last feedzone as the risk of them riding into the darkness and missing the cut-off time would be too high. "They will still be in the race", he added and that they would be able to continue in their respective classifications with a small time penalty.
Both Annemiek van Vleuten and Urs Huber will be starting in the elite leader jerseys tomorrow. Tomorrow's stage three will be a lap race in the Atherton MTB Park; two loops of 27km ea will have to be completed with a total of 1600vm. For further event information, visit


1. Urs Huber (SUI) 4:25:00.9
2. Sébastien Carabin (BEL) 4:28:50.9 +3:50 min
3. Manuel Pliem (AUT) 4:40:06.5 +15:05 min
4. Bas Peters (NED) 4:43:16.1 +18:15 min
5. Michiel Van Aelbroeck (BEL) 4:43:35.3 +18:34 min
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) 5:28:28.1
2. Alice Pirard (BEL) 5:57:13.8 +28:45min
3. Ruth Corset (AUS) 6:13:05.3 +44:37
4. Sarah Kaehler (AUS) 7:04:11.7 +95:43
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