September 21, 2017 (Wetherby, AUS) – The Crocodile Trophy has arrived at Wetherby Cattle Station high up on the escarpment from Port Douglas. Four out of the top five finishers were elites today – after a 102km/1000vm marathon from Skybury Coffee Plantation, Andrew L’Esperance wins the sprint against Leandre Bouchard and claims his first stage win in 3h26:08.1 at the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy. The Australian elite Ben May (+11:28.2) is in third and the Japanese rider Hioyuki Okamoto (+13:39.2) is in fifth, with Erik Dekker, the amateur leader, coming in fourth today (+11:30.8). Kanadian elite woman Haley Smith finished in 12th overall position again today with a gap of only +21:58.6 to her partner L’Esperance.
Australia jersey out of action: Slezak crashes
Australia-jersey racer and amateur category A2 leader after five stages Ondrej Slezak from Sydney crashes and suffers a broken collar bone. He was treated at Mareeba Hospital and has been reported to be in good spirits. “Ondrej was very brave today and is currently assessing the situation with his Quantum Racing Team as an operation and transfer back to Sydney is likely to be required”, said Regina Stanger from the organisational team.
Another rider involved in a crash, Rod Stormonth from Melbourne, is currently being treated at Cairns Hospital. “We’ve had a busy morning looking after our injured riders today”, admitted Regina Stanger. “It is tough when you’re in such a remote location, however, our satellite communication and emergency procedures worked well and our medical team was with the patients quickly in both incidences”, she said.
Logistical operation in the Outback
The logistics at the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy are an incredible undertaking. Four-wheel drive and cooling trucks are transporting the outdoor kitchen equipment, tents, food and general supplies, mobile mechanical and medical stations as well as the riders’ luggage from each stage destination to the next. “All the food and general supplies as well as all hire equipment is sourced locally in the Cairns and Port Douglas regions”, explained Stanger who brings experienced staff from overseas and hires local team managers who lead the backpacking crews.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, sometimes it feels like it takes a whole township to keep the Crocodile Trophy moving each day”, Stanger said. Apart from the organisational challenges of running a stage race in the remote Australian Outback it’s the sheer amount of supplies and the volume of food that is required to keep it going. “Our riders eat a good 80kg of bananas a day at the feed stations out on track and close to a ton of water melons throughout the entire event. About 20 litres of milk are served every day as well as 15 dozen eggs and 65kg of meat – if there’s pasta on the menu, we go through a godo 50kg of it per day”, she explained.
With two stages to go in this year’s event, the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy crew and riders will stay at Wetherby for two nights, no doubt refueling with juicy beef from the farm. Tomorrow will be a 78km/1050vm marathon through Kuranda National Park along the Twin Bridges Road before the final stage will be an individual time trial in reverse order of the general classification down the infamous Bump Track and along the Four Mile Beach shores into the finish in Port Douglas.
1. Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing-Norco) 3:26:08
2. Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) 0:04
3. Ben May (Bicycle Riders/Specialized/Infinit Nutrition) 11:28
4. Erik Dekker 11:30
5. Hiroyuki Okamoto (INPULSE) 13:39
12. Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) 21:58
GC after Stage 6
1. Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) 23:26:47
2. Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing-Norco) 1:31
3. Erik Dekker 1:09:18
4. Daniel Beresford (Team Cycle Station/Hammer Nutrition/Norco) 2:15:08
5. Hiroyuki Okamoto (INPULSE) 2:30:49
13. Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) 4:44:37