Rybarkik gets stage as Czechs again dominate
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.
For the second day in succession the Czech VIG+ Racing team put the hammer down in a determined effort to split the race apart. It was a tactic that brought the same reward as yesterday, a one-two-three podium finish for the Czechs, who are far exceeding prerace expectations with a thoroughly dominant performance.
Fojtik and team-mate Ivan Rybarik escaped from the lead bunch at the fifty kilometre mark, despite the combined efforts of Australia’s Merida Flight Centre Team, Belgian champion Nicolas Vermeulen and Rockstar Racing’s Craig Gordon, who worked together to limit the damage.
In the end Fojtik gifted the stage win to his team-mate, who helped the two-time second place getter at Australia’s outback classic into the race lead for the first time. “For me this is my third time at the Crocodile Trophy and it is the first time I have taken the leader’s jersey, so this is very special for me,” Fojtik said.
Rybarik was equally pleased with claiming his first stage victory at the Crocodile Trophy and the second successive stage win for his team, in what is, so far, a totally dominant performance. “Yeah it was very good, I went with Ondrej around fifty kilometres and Ondrej said we will go until the finish,” Rybarik said. “For me this is great and for the team this is perfect."
Belgian marathon MTB Champion Nic Vermuelen appears to be running out of ideas, but is hoping tomorrow will be a different story as the race heads onto the famed “Powerline Track” for a stage of pure mountainbiking.
Vermeulen was happy to receive support from the Australians on a day when the major objective for all the non-Czechs in the race was to limit the damages.
That said, the outlook is bleak for the likes of Vermeulen, Gordon, Nick Both, Tim Bennett and Adrian Jackson in terms of any G.C. hopes they may have harboured.
Team VIG+ now occupies the top four places on G.C., with Ver-meulen the nearest outsider, more than ten minutes off the pace. Gordon is the best placed of the Australians at 15.58 behind Fojtik and with tomorrow’s profile suiting the technically skilled rider, it may be the best chance anyone has of gaining time on the seemingly unbeatable Czechs.
In the women’s event Australia’s Jo Bennett of the Merida Flight Centre team rode a sound tactical race. But the day belonged to Belgian Karen Steurs, who attacked Bennett in the final kilometres, to peg back just a handful of seconds from the Australian’s lead of more than four minutes.
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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.
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.