• Race leader Leandre Bouchard deep in the Australian bush. (Regina Stanger/Crocodile Trophy)Source: Regina Stanger/Crocodile Trophy
While the general classification remained the same, five Australians were among the top ten finishers on Stage 4 of the METP Crocodile Trophy.
By
Cycling Central

20 Sep 2017 - 11:55 AM  UPDATED 20 Sep 2017 - 12:52 PM

Canadian Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) finished ahead of compatriot Andrew L'Esperance (Forward Racing-Norco) after the 122km stage from Skybury Coffee near Mareeba with Australia's Ondrej Slezak (Quantum Racing Team) third.

Bouchard said he was pacing himself over the course of the demanding stage race.

“Doing it full-gas all the time would be tough," he said. "I just want to keep it safe, that helped a little bit to stay fresh and of course the mileage in my legs and the training over the years.”

Bouchard and L'Esperance lead the general classification by almost an hour ahead Erik Dekker while Slezak is fourth overall.

Stage 4 was eventful for Dekker with another crash in as many days, the former Tour de France rider a victim of a crash in the wet weather conditions.

Russian National Marathon Champion Anton Sintsov (JBG-2 Team) who suffered a broken wheel on Stage 4 was forced to abandon ahead of the stage from Tepon Equestrian Park-Skybury Coffee Plantation.

Chasing the men, the sole elite woman Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) is placed in 12th on the general classification and is fifth outright in the elite field after four stages.

“I just like racing people, doesn't really matter who”, she said.

Slezak, Daniel Beresford (Cycle Station/Hammer Nutrition/Norco), Ben May (Bicycle Riders/Specialized/Infinit Nutrition), Alex Malone (Cyclist Magazine) and Peter Lister (Corry Cycles ACE Racing) were the five Australians who finished in Stage 4 top ten.

At the half-way mark of the event, camp was been set up at the Skybury Coffee Plantation after an unusually rainy stage through the Outback across rough mining trails.

For two nights the tropical paradise near Mareeba will be home for the international field of riders and crew as the look ahead to Stage 5, the longest of the race at 125km.

Bouchard and L'Esperance extend Croc lead
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Bouchard holds on at Croc
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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.