Crocodile Trophy: Czechs dominate Stage 1
Czech team VIG+ racing dominated todayís opening stage of the 2008 Crocodile Trophy, claiming all three menís podium places, in what proved to be a thoroughly dominant per-formance and an ominous sign for rivals.
The Czechs attacked immediately following the race start on today’s opening 80 kilometre stage from Mareeba to Irvinebank, using all six elite team members to build a stage win-ning lead, before the race hit the first serious off-road section.
The team, built around two-time Crocodile Trophy second place-getter Ondrej Fojtik, showed it has a variety of at-tacking weapons at the 2008 edition of Australia’s outback classic.
Champion marathoners Ivan Rybarik and Martin Horak featured in the breakaway move, but it was team-mate Tomas Trunschka who stamped his name on the opening stage, crossing the finish line solo, with a blistering time of 2.37.10. Fojtik and Horak finished a further two minutes and thirty seconds back, to make it an all Czech podium.
“We decided to ride together as a team on the opening as-phalt section, but when we went into the bush it was every man for himself,” Trunschka said.
The Czech’s managed to put more than four minutes between themselves and their near-est international rival, Belgium’s Nicolas Vermeulen, making it a commanding, but by no means race winning lead.
“It was very good and we are happy we place in the first three, but the race is very long and this is only one day,” the experienced Fojtik said as he considered the distant prospect of a Czech winning the 2008 Crocodile Trophy.
Fourth placed Vermeulen and sixth placed Australian Craig Gordon both struggled with the early pace on the asphalt, but both made up valuable time when the Crocodile Trophy moved to its favoured surface on the rocky washed-out trails of Australia’s remote Far North.
Vermeulen, the Belgian marathon champion and Gordon, the former World 24 hour solo champion, both ended the day pleased with their overall efforts.
“That road section at the beginning, I was in the second group and the Czech guys went away with the Merida guys,” Gordon said. “As soon as we got to the dirt I picked my game up, but I was just caught nap-ping.”
The challenge ahead for Gordon is to ride with intent on the flatter sections and wait for the mountains to pounce, but he admits the Czech’s have a distinct advantage. “If they’ve got four guys in the top G.C. it’s going to be very hard,” he said.
Czech cyclist Ondrej Fojtik is one step closer to achieving his dream of winning the Crocodile Trophy after snatching the leaders jersey from the shoulders of team-mate Tomas Trunschka.
Over ten days and more than 1200 kilometres, across some of the most difficult terrain the wild country of Australia can offer, the combatants in the Crocodile Trophy 2008 are readying themselves for a mental and physical onslaught.