Elite victories for Belgium - Carabin and Pirard win Stage 3 in Atherton

By Rocky Trail Media

Monday's second stage was a lap race at the Atherton MTB Park. Sebastien Carabin wins by 1:11 min ahead of Urs Huber who defends his leader jersey and Matthias Grick (AUT +9:43). Michiel van Aelbroeck (BEL +15:22) in fourth, Manuel Pliem (AUT +15:23) in fifth. Alice Pirard wins in the women's ahead of Annemiek van Vleuten and Sarah Kaehler (AUS).

Stage three in the Atherton Mountain Bike Park was Australian-style racing at its best: lots of singletrails, berms, tight corners and rocky terrain and the Crocodile Trophy field was impressed.

The cross-country specialist Sebastien Carabin and race leader Urs Huber rode together for most of the race until Huber had bad luck when a branch got stuck in his back wheel. Carabin overtook the Swiss rider and in break-neck style descended into the finish, winning by 1:11min. Urs Huber still holds onto the leader jersey, however, and leads the general classification by 1:37min ahead of Monday's stage winner Carabin.

Huber is the marathon expert, Carabin very skilled on the technical stages - tomorrow's stage is another technical one, followed by two marathon stages that will demand endurance. The Austrian Matthias Grick came in third, recovered from yesterday's cramps.

After three stages, in the women's elite division, Annemiek van Vleute is still our race leader by 4:09min, coming into the finish in second behind Monday's winner, Alice Pirard who was beaming with excitement after racing in Atherton. Sarah Kaehler (AUS) comes in third. Ruth Corset had bad luck as well - four flats in a row. 

Here are some of the riders, talking about their race day number three:
Sebastien Carabin (BEL)
"Today suited me really well, beautiful singletrails and perfect for a cross-country specialist like me! In the beginning I couldn't pass Urs Huber at all. But on the last lap he had a problem, when a tree branch got stuck in his wheel, so that's when I was able to pass him. I waited for him to get going again and then attacked with about 10km to go."
Urs Huber (SUI) - not too disappointed, despite mechanical
"I knew today was going to be a good stage for him [Carabin], that's why i wanted to get into the singletrail in first, which I did. From there I was able to control the race for a long time, but at the last descent I got a branch into my gear shifter at the back, so I had to stop. Sebastien passed me and took quite some risks on the descent to get away. I didn't want crash or risk another mechanical, so I descended more carefully, so I'm ok with the second place. "

"The long stages will suit me better, but generally I think the overall length of the race will play in my favour. I think Carabin had some advantages today with his fully [full suspension bike], I think, otherwise technically I'm equally strong. But the track today was quite rough, so he had a good set up."

"I have more experience when it comes to the Crocodile Trophy, I know when to pace myself, when to be careful - the gap is very small now, but I'm still relatively relaxed about it. Carabin gained some time today, but had to risk a lot for it - and if that doesn't work out, your whole week might be over. That's why my motto is, stay cool and it will work out."

Matthias Grick AUT
"Yesterday I had an extremely bad day, I still don't know why. But that can happen, that nothing works out sometimes. And it was such a long stage, and I was by myself all the time, so that's when you loose a lot of time. So last night I tried to eat and drink well, was able to rest because my support crew was great and got everything ready for me, so I had a good sleep. Today I risked everything and went with Urs [Huber] and Sebastien [Carabin] and managed to hang on until just after the half-way mark of the race. Then I kept up my own pace, so third spot, that's ok."
Alice Pirard BEL
"Today was a wonderland - it was a dream! It was singletrack paradise, the wholetime technical stuff, berms, roots, rockgardens, exactly what I love. It was real mountain biking today! I pushed hard from the beginning, so I had a good rhythm just like in cross-country racing, I think I have quite a good gap. It's really nice to have a second stage win. Also, Sebastien is my team mate, so it's really cool for our team that we both won the stage again and on the same day.
Annemiek van Vleuten NED
"That was quite technical today, a great track and real mountain biking! Now I know why so many Australians love mountain biking!" - Keeps overall women's lead.
Ruth Corset AUS
"Today was pretty tough, because I got four flats [flat tyres] - three of them on the first lap! I didn't have any tubes left for the last two, so I had some fellow riders top and help me, which was really nice of them. I don't really know why, I've never had flats before, used the same tyres... I just don't understand. The course was beautiful, nice and flowy. I preferred today to yesterday, even though I'm a road rider. It was just so brutally hot... and I like hills generally, but that was just crazy. "
Stage 4 will be a marathon starting at the Coombra Station and will ascend to the top of the Great Dividing Range where the racers will ride through the Herberton Range State Forest and back to Atherton. In total it will be 72km across 2300vm.

TOP RESULTS Elite Stage 3:

1 #1 Sebastien CARABIN BEL merida wallonie-Vojo Mag 3:34:40.2    
2 #11 Urs HUBER SUI Team Bulls 3:35:51.8 +1:11  
3 #2 Matthias GRICK AUT KTM Ebner Transporte Cycling Team Graz 3:44:23.8 +9:43  
4 #4 Michiel VAN AELBROECK BEL 3:50:02.7 +15:22  
5 #10 Manuel PLIEM AUT Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE 3:50:03.4 +15:23
1 #21 Alice PIRARD BEL Merida-Wallonie MTB Team 4:25:56.3    
2 #22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN NED Orica-AIS / Scott 4:41:04.2 +15:07  
3 #23 Sarah KAEHLER AUS Astute Financial Racing Team 5:00:13.9 +34:17  
4 #25 Ruth CORSET AUS   5:12:16.3 +46:20

TOP RESULTS Elite Overall after 3 Stages:

1 #11 Urs HUBER SUI Team Bulls 9:54:33.4    
2 #1 Sebastien CARABIN BEL merida wallonie-Vojo Mag 9:56:10.9 +0:1:37   
3 #10 Manuel PLIEM AUT Team KTM-RAD.SPORT.SZENE 10:30:55.1 +0:36:21

1 22 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN NED Orica-AIS / Scott 12:46:35.2            
2 21 Alice PIRARD BEL Merida-Wallonie MTB Team 12:50:44.9 +0:4:09           
3 25 Ruth CORSET AUS 13:57:47.9 +1:11:12
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