The 18th Crocodile Trophy, arguably the world’s hardest mountain bike stage race, kicks off in Cairns, Australia on October 20 with its biggest field ever. More than 150 racers ae expected to line up for the ten-day epic which kicks off with a 30km race on the 1996 world championship circuit at Smithfield near Cairns.Boelen, Huber, Blewitt, and Krenn lead last year’s Croc Trophy.
The opening stage will be open to the public, as will the following day’s 92km marathon from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.
As well as the biggest total field, this year’s Croc Trophy sees the biggest ever contingent of Australian riders and the biggest ever female field.
The local group is headed by 24 hour solo world champion Jason English and Morris, the best Elite Australian finisher at the Crocodile Trophy 2011.Technical trails are a challenge in the heat and dust of the Outback.
Among the international field are last year’s top three with winner Jeroen Boelen (Netherlands), Wolfgang Krenn (Austria) and Josef Benedseder (Austria). Canadian marathon racer and Mongolia Bike Challenge winner Cory Wallace will also be at the start line alongside Spaniard and Red Bull racer Josef Ajram.
Seven women have signed up for this year’s Crocodile Trophy, including Australian triathlete and Ironman racer Kate Major.
After the Smithfield stage, the following eight days will challenge the technical skills of participants more than ever before. Generally, the stages will be shorter than in previous years, but where previous Croc Trophies have been characterised by dirt road epics, this year the stages will include considerably more mountain bike tracks. Overall, the participants will ride for almost 1000km with the longest stage covering 136km.A very long way from anywhere on the Croc Trophy.
The sheer logistics of racing across the Outback make the Crocodile Trophy as much an adventure as it is a race. Each night camp will be set up in mining towns and at cattle stations in some of the most remote parts of Australia.
Over the nine stages racers will ride over corrugated fire trails, through river crossings, down technical descents and through the forbidding landscape of rocky service roads without an inch of shade. And then there is the scenery – dark red sand, and vegetation ranging from barren bush to lush rainforest.
The Outback will continue to be centre-stage in 2012 with camps at the cattle stations of Mt. Mulligan, Mitchell and Palmer River. The seventh stage will take the riders to Maytown. Once a big gold mining centre, this Outback town will also be the focus of world-wide attention three weeks after the Crocodile Trophy makes its stop there this year. Maytown has been identified as the best place to watch the solar eclipse on November 14 with more than 10,000 expected spectators.
Many sections of Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail will also be part of this year’s Croc Trophy. After a ten year break the legendary stage through the Quinkan Aboriginal Reserve from Maytown to Laura is back in this year’s Croc Trophy.Tough dirt roads will still be a feature of the 2012 Croc Trophy, but there will be more trails in this year’s race.
There will be a two-person ‘Croc Adventure’ team category will for the first time this year. Team .participants will ride together and cross the finish line each day not more than two minutes apart.
The 18th Crocodile Trophy will have a more international field than ever. As well as numerous Europeans and Australians, riders from countries like South Korea, Mexico, the US and South Africa have signed up.
A crowd of 300 athletes, supporters and organisational crew will arrive at the finish line on Grassy Hill in Cooktown on October 28. After nine days in the Outback, Captain Cook’s landing site will once again be the riders’ final destination and one of the most rewarding highlights of the Crocodile Trophy 2012.Destination: Cooktown. The green of the coast is a welcome sight after nine days of racing.