With one month to go until the Crocodile Trophy stage race in Australia, Italy's Mauro Bettin, former UCI World Cup marathon champion, confirmed his attendance. He hopes to lay his "crocodile curse" to rest. A two-time protagonist in Australia's greatest endurance cycling event, Bettin will be hoping this, the 13th staging of the Outback classic, will bring the luck which has so far deserted him, as he attempts to lead the Felt Dream Team to victory.
Bettin will face the strongest field in the event's history. However, he'll have the support of Luxembourg's Benoit Joachim (Astana), the vastly experienced European Max Becker and hard as nails Australian domestique Darren O'Grady (a 2006 stage winner).
Joachim, who sports an impressive resume including multiple Luxembourg national championships, along with the honour of riding for Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France during his former years at US Postal, could yet be the Dream Team trump card. "Joachim brings brute strength to the Felt Dream Team and you need that in this race, especially on the longer flat stages," said Team Manager Christi Valentine.
Thirteen nations are represented on the eighty-strong start list. Last year's stage winners Attila Marton (Hungary), Stefan Rucker (Austria) and Michael Borup (Denmark) will be back in the hunt for overall honours along with Czech marathon specialists Andrej Fojtik and Radoslav (Radik).
The Crocodile Trophy begins October 23 and runs through November 1. Christoph Stevens won the 2006 edition.