Crocodile Trophy Stage 8: Former Slipstream/Garmin rider Huub Duyn stage winner in the midst of bush fires and crocodiles
Stage 8, 25 October 2011
Good that the Normanby River, in which the infamous Queensland’s saltwater crocodiles where sighted just a few days ago, separated the raging bush fires from the finish area or the stage would have had to be neutralized today. After a short but extremely hot stage Huub Duyn (Darrell Lee – Donckers Koffie) from the Netherlands won the stage in Kalpowar Camp, beating Austrian Josef Benedseder in a sprint of two. After three years of being a helper on the road for Garmin riders Bradley Wiggins, Tylar Farrar, Christian Vande Velde and Martijn Maaskant, Duyn returned to the continental level. His excursion to the Crocodile Trophy was supposed to be for fun, but once a rider is on the bike, he wants to win…
“This morning Huub was complaining again and he didn’t want to start any more”, said his team-mate Kevin Hulsmans from Belgium. “We told him that it was a short stage and that it would be easier on the bike than in the back of a wobbling car.” Wobbling, that indeed describes today’s stage. Corrugations from the start in Laura till the end in Kalpowar. ‘Fortunately’, it was a flat stage. The heat and the rough surface made it already hard enough.
The best 17 riders immediately broke away but soon lost René Haselbacher (puncture), Mark Griffin (hit a reflective pole with his left knee) and Mike Blewitt (material problem). Nobody in the front was able to attack as Swiss champion Urs Huber kept the pace so high that nobody ever thought of taking the initiative. For more than 70 km the two-time Crocodile Trophy winner was pulling the front group. Impressive, but not immediately comprehensible to riders and spectators alike.
“I didn’t want a scenario like yesterday when a small group of riders broke away and caused my and race leader Boelen’s group falling asleep behind them”, said Huber. “I wanted to make the race hard. It is my only chance to beat Jeroen Boelen, still 7 minutes ahead of me in the GC. Okay, in the end nobody cracked but I had to give it a try.” Huber showed a strong performance and after the second feeding station kept powering on, despite a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop until he was in the finish, being looked after by medical staff and partner Simone Jung, whom he had met at last year’s Crocodile Trophy.
“A lot of times in my career I raced with and against Fabian Cancellara”, commented Kevin Hulsmans. “But what Huber did was as impressive, just what ‘Spartacus’ would do. Amazing how he, by himself, kept the speed that high on those terrible corrugations. We were all dying on his wheel.”
Really just one rider had tried to do something against Urs Huber’s hegemony and that was Kevin Hulsmans. He attacked, like he’s done every day so far, but this time not once, not two or three times, Hulsmans attacked ten times on the roads through the Lakefield National Park, with its countless termite colonies. The first 8 times it was Huber himself who went after him. The last two times, at 5 and 3 K from the end it was the Australian Graeme Arnott, the leader in the Masters category, who spoiled the plans of Hulsmans.
The first counter attack of someone else was immediately the one that worked. Huub Duyn gave it a try at 2 K from the finish. Josef Benedseder and Justin Morris were the only ones able or willing to follow. For Morris it all went too fast. A too nervous Benedseder started the sprint between the two of them from too far behind and the experienced Duyn overtook him and claimed his first ever mountain bike victory.
“At the 500 meter mark I tried to push it really hard but apparently not hard enough as Duyn managed to pass me”, said the disappointed Austrian rider. “This is already my second placing as second in this Crocodile Trophy. There are still two chances left for me. I came here for a stage win. I won’t give it up.”
With his third place Australian Justin Morris (Subaru/MarathonMTB.com) was as happy as if he had won. “We had a good team performance today. Graeme Arnott worked for his position as best Master in the GC, I would race for the stage win. I did not win, but this is really my best ever performance in a mountain bike race. I hope this can give other diabetics more hope; just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’t do sports at a high level.”
Next season Justin Morris will race on the road for Team Type 1 on the development program, as he already did in 2010. “I am the first diabetic to do this race. I hope some others will follow my example”, concluded Justin Morris.
Happiest rider in Kalpowar was of course Dutch rider Duyn. “It is true, I thought ‘what am I doing here?’ a lot and that I should really be somewhere nice with my wife in October, but now my perseverance delivered. I had no mountain bike experience at all. This race is technically not so hard, but there is the heat, today all those corrugations – I have blisters on my hands – and then after the stage you need to put up your tents, wash your clothes yourself etc. It makes it hard, but an unforgettable adventure.”
After winning Paris-Tours for Rabobank Continental in 2006, Jonathan Vaughters brought Huub Duyn to his Slipstream-Chipotle team in 2007. He stayed there for three years. “That was a perfect team for me. Vaughters had patience with me after my mononucleosis in my first and an endofibrosis of the external iliac artery in my second year. They used me for all work. I started in all classic races for them. I can climb, I can ride the whole day in the front. I know my job in cycling.”
For Duyn, 2010 (Team NetApp) was a year to forget after being hit by a car, which left him with 5 fractures in his face. For continental Team Donckers Koffie Duyn got four podium places in 2011, but he had to come to Australia for his first victory.
Best Master 1 finisher in Kalpowar was Belgian Jan Verboven. “I have a full time job, two little kids, this Crocodile Trophy results are a surprise for me. On the other hand, I really trained for it a whole year. My father was a multi-winner in road races. I prefer mountain biking. That’s more fun, more nature, more honest.”
Tomorrow’s stage over 148 kilometers goes from Kalpowar to Starke. It will be a very hard and sandy stage with deep bull dust sectioins. Having suffered from a sore knee for the past few days, Australian John Boswell will not be at the start line any more.