• L'Esperance stayed in front of Bouchard to stay close on GC. (Igor Schifris / Crocodile Trophy)Source: Igor Schifris / Crocodile Trophy
Canadians Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) and Andrew L'Esperance (Forward Racing-Norco) combined to extend their lead to a massive 22 minutes after the third stage of the MEPT-Crocodile Trophy.
Cycling Central

19 Sep 2017 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 19 Sep 2017 - 11:13 AM

The 100km marathon from Lake Tinaroo to Tepon Equestrian Park near Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands contained 2,600m of climbing which put all riders in the hurt box, including Dutch road cycling legend Erik Dekker who leads the amateurs in fourth overall.

The first 20km was relatively flat terrain and the lead group of Bouchard, L'Esperance and Dekker worked to a massive lead on the rest of the field. But the two Canadians attacked and dropped Dekker at the 30km mark when the technical climbs peppered with brutally steep climbs kicked in and took a massive gap of more than 22 minutes

But the two Canadians attacked and dropped Dekker at the 30km mark when the technical climbs peppered with steep inclines kicked in.

Dekker rode the remaining stage by himself after crashing with just a few kilometres to go.

"There was a bit of a gap in the bridge and I crashed there," Dekker said. "I was riding by myself, I hadn't even been in a hurry or anything”,

The 47-year old said that he had known that it would be hard but was in good spirits after the difficult stage.

“Anyone who finishes today, power to them." he said.

In the general classification, L'Esperance stays on the wheel of Bouchard, behind by 1min 29sec. Together they lead by a margin of more than half an hour ahead of Dekker and by 1hr 11min to Anton Sintsov from Russia.

Haley Smith (JBG-2 Team) leads the women but as the only elite rider among them takes her motivations from mixing it with the men.

“I've never done a marathon, let alone a marathon stage race," she said. "So I'm pleasantly surprised with how I'm riding so far and how my legs are feeling.

"I've had some really good men to ride with and it's been a very cohesive group to ride with. It's been good, I've had a lot of guys to encourage me along.”

Bouchard holds on at Croc
Leandre Bouchard defended his Crocodile Trophy leaders jersey at the end of the second stage from Cairns to Atherton.

Crocodile Trophy kicks off with Canadian double win
Renowned as one the hardest races in the world, the 23rd edition MEPT – Crocodile Trophy started with a lap race at Smithfield MTB Park in Cairns on Saturday. Haley Smith and Leandre Bouchard claimed a double victory for Canada in stage 1 in the elite categories.