Michael England is second overall after the first three stages of the Crocodile Trophy. PICTURE: Regina Stanger
Michael England is second overall after the first three stages of the Crocodile Trophy. PICTURE: Regina Stanger

England setting the pace after stage three

MOUNTAIN BIKES: A carefree approach to competition racing has Gladstone's Mick England in overall second place in the Elite Men category after day three of the eight-stage Crocodile Trophy in Far North Queensland.

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England was the overall leader after the first two stages and he finished fourth in today's 83km stage three race.

England completed the distance in 3hr 28min 05sec.

Dutch rider Bart Classens earned victory in the third stage in a time of 3hr 22min 09.9sec ahead of Spaniard Brandan Marquez Fernandez and South African Alan Gordon.

England said tomorrow's 98km fourth stage would be a huge test.

"All the stages have their challenges but today's is supposed to be a killer," he said on the Michael England - Mountain Biking Facebook site.

"Fingers crossed for a good recovery and good legs for stage four."

England's success has come as a surprise to the man who had given away competitive racing.

"My approach has been pretty relaxed this time," he told The Cairns Post after he led the first two stages.

"It's been a bit of a challenge coming into this event, and it's a large surprise to be in the lead.

"I've let bike racing go as a serious thing, so backing up for an eight-day event is the challenge.

"You can always burn the candle at both ends in a race, but you have always got to be aware of the next few days."

Despite at almost the half-way stage, England admitted he was not confident he could back up his superb start.

England will continue to have a take-it-as-it-comes approach.

"There is still the whole week to go and I'm planning it day by day. Some of these climbs you just have to ride at your own pace otherwise you'll have to pay the price later on ... I'm relaxed at this stage.," he said on the Crocodile Trophy Facebook site.

"We're all threats to each other and in a good way, we're checking each other out.

"We're all wearing this jersey together as such."

Fellow Gladstone rider Sean Hall has had a successful three stages and sits overall 15th and third in the Amateur Men 2 category.