Stage 5 – Mount Mulligan-Granite Creek Dam
Benetseder conquers monster stage in solo race
Stage win for Austria – in an impressive solo race over 163km Josef Benetseder wins the fifth and longest stage of this year’s Crocodile Trophy at Granite Creek Dam in the mining country of Far North Queensland with a massive 12 minute lead ahead of race leader Australian Mark Frendo and Cory Wallace from Canada. More than half of the more than 900km have been completed and four stages including an individual time trial at Laura still lie ahead before the finish on Cooktown’s Grassy Hill this Sunday.
It had been his plan all along, said today’s stage winner Josef Benetseder of his monster solo race at the Crocodile Trophy. “During the first big climbs on the second stage I felt really good and knew that I had a chance on smooth terrain. I took it easy on the technical sections on the last two stages and went right from the start today”, said the pro-road racer who had suffered three flat tires during yesterday’s stage into Mount Mulligan and admitting worrying about mechanicals all day today.
Determined Benetseder races solo and wins
None of the elite riders was able to catch up to Benetseder and at the Mitchell River Crossing he had already gained eight minutes on the large field of more than 20 chasers. On the huge climbs through the Mt Windsor ranges west of the Daintree National Park the dry and radiating heat had riders suffer and the three elite race leaders Mark Frendo (AUS), Cory Wallace (CAN) and Jiri Krivanek (CZE) broke away from the chasing group. But Benetseder was in his element and kept increasing his lead to more than 10 minutes by the last feed zone 18km before the finish.
“I just tried to race consistently today, kept riding a fast but safe pace all the way. All went to plan, really”, said the 30-year old Upper Austrian as he arrived at the finish, covered in dust, mud and sweat. He wasn’t going to be able to challenge the general classification anymore he added, however, Benetseder admitted that he still had his eyes on the Cooktown stage, which he won in 2012. “I might just give it another go”, he said with a cheeky grin.
Overall race victory still wide open
“I couldn’t believe how strong Benetseder raced today”, said Cory Wallace at the finish, admitting that he had his eyes on the race leader Mark Frendo all day and thought that they would catch Benetseder eventually. “I tried to push the chaser group really hard and kept attacking. But Frendo was there right away every time and we wore each other out eventually”, said Wallace who finished in third behind Frendo in a sprint finish in the end. Frendo who admit still has an 11 minute overall lead and will have to keep watching the Canadian on tomorrow’s 118km stage to Laura.
They’re more than half way now and tomorrow the Crocodile Trophy racers are riding to Laura via the Old Coach Trail, an historic mining road. Rough and sandy terrain is on the cards as well as river crossings and the riders are looking forward to re-entering civilisation in the little town of 80 residents near the Lakefield National Park.
For more information, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com
Photos: Kenneth Lorents & Rocky Trail
Top Results – Stage 4:
1. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #3 / Team Eybl / 6:09:28
2. Mark Frendo (AUS) / #12 / 6:23:10 / +13:42
3. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Kona-MBC / 6:23:11 / +13:43
4. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / PRESTIGE / 6:30:37 / +21:09
5. Matthew Page (GBR) / #9 / A Cycling/Pivot / 6:39:46 / +30:18
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 7:50:18
2. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 8:55:22
3. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 9:37:46
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 10:55:58
Stage winners in other categories:
M1: Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Bikepalast.com / 6:36:53 / Category 1st
M2: Hans Planckaert (BEL) / #40 / Smart Cycling Team / 6:53:37 / Category 1st
M3: Peter Selkrig (AUS) / #71 / Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing / 7:09:08 / Category 1st
Overall race lead:
1. Mark Frendo (AUS ) / #12 / Elite / 19:03:45
2. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Elite / Kona-MBC / + 00:11:00
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / Elite / PRESTIGE / + 00:38:27
4. Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Master 1 / Bikepalast.com / + 00:53:49
5. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #3 / Team Eybl / +1:17:11