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11th Crocodile Trophy - October 18-30, 2005
Felt Dream Team diary
Punctures galore and some rude Italian
Stage 5 - October 22: Blancoe Fall - Koombooloomba, 75 km
The stage into Koomboloomba Dam was very disappointing for the Felt-Shimano Dream Team because team leader Mauro Bettin had four consecutive punctures, resulting in a loss of 16 minutes in the overall classification to race leader Adam Hansen.
Bettin, who rolled over the line with a less than impressed expression on his face dealt with the fact that he only had the equipment to repair the tyre twice. He then gave his wheel to team-mate Jens Zemke, who was forced to walk for 20 kilometres, pushing his bike up wall like rock formations. Zemke, who all along has feared the inevitable lived his fears on this day. With 10 kilometres to go David Wood gave Zemke his back wheel so he could stop the death march and ride to the finish.
Results were discussed in the massage at Koombooloomba dam, with Adam Hansen commenting that he felt Mauro could possibly take only a few minutes out of him if he had to ride the rim into the stage. He was still aware of the powerful Italian as he motored along at 20 kilometres per hour, maintaining full control even though his rear wheel was losing it on the descents.
And although it was a disappointing stage for the Felt-Shimano Dream Team and we lost the crucial sixteen minutes to Hansen, if there was going to be a problem on any stage this was the stage to have a problem because it was the shortest stage of the Crocodile Trophy and therefore ideal to be our one bad day.
Everyone else on the Dream Team felt Mauro's pain, particularly Jens Zemke, but Kai Hundertmarck also punctured twice and 'Large' often spoke of Cyclocross. Wood wasn't being negative, resigning himself to the fact that "this is bike racin'." Later that evening the combined efforts of the Dream Team resulted in a fairly ineffective campfire so efforts to dry their completely saturated baggage were dashed, but morale was good and the sunrise on the Koombooloomba Dam cast a whole new light on the squad.
Stage 6 - October 23: Koombooloomba - Irvinebank, 98 km
After many hours of wrenching, tweaking and shining, the Dream Team was ready for the stage into Irvinebank, half of which was bitumen. The two Germans optimistically ran slick tyres, the likes of which Michael Schumacher would be proud.
Hundertmarck strapped a knobby to the down-tube in case of disaster, and Zemke just took his chances. All was well as they attacked five kilometres into the stage, with the two German riders and the one Italian headed up the road ready to count coup on 'The Coconuts'. But as Zemke blew as a result of a 20 kilometre jog the day before, Hundertmarck did his team proud and rode his slicks well over the bitumen and the sandy off-cambre turns, which nearly saw him come unstuck on several occassions.
After 69 kilometres Hundertmarck was heard screaming expressions we can't publish, in Italian, as he came down an off-cambre switch back and took the widest line available without impaling himself on a eucalypt. When asked about this outburst, he said, "I prefer yelling profanities in Italian, it just feels better." At the top of the final approach into Irvinebank, Hundertmarck gave Mauro Bettin a little push and the Italian took it from there, winning it by half a wheel after a 350m sprint.
Incidentally, it was a strong sprint from Hansen who is sporting several stitches in his knee after yesterday's touch-down.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Christi Valentine-Anderson