Czech rider Ondrej Fojtik snatched the leader's jersey from team-mate Tomas Trunschka during the second stage of Australia's Crocodile Trophy.
For the second day in succession the Czech VIG+ Racing team put the hammer down in a determined effort to split the race apart, as riders raced from Irvinebank to Koombooloomba Dam in north Queensland.
Fojtik and team-mate Ivan Rybarik escaped from the lead bunch at the 50km mark, despite the combined efforts of Australia’s Merida Flight Centre Team, Belgian champion Nicolas Vermeulen and Rockstar Racing’s Craig Gordon, who worked together to limit the damage.
In the end, Fojtik gifted the stage win to his team-mate, who helped him into the race lead for the first time.
“This is my third time at the Crocodile Trophy and it is the first time I have taken the leader’s jersey, so this is very special for me,” said Fojtik, who has finished second overall for the past two years.
Rybarik was equally pleased with his first stage victory and the second successive stage win for his team.
“Yeah it was very good. I went with Ondrej at around 50km and Ondrej said 'we will go until the finish',” said Rybarik.
“For me this is great and for the team this is perfect. In our country this race is very popular and it’s great when you can win this race overall and win two stages.”
Merida Flight Centre’s Jo Bennett has maintained her hold on the women’s race leader’s jersey after duelling with Belgian Karen Steurs.
The Crocodile Trophy is described by the organisers as the world’s hottest, longest and hardest mountain bike race.
Covering more than 1,200km in 10 days, competitors will make their way from Mareeba to