By John Flynn
He may be the reigning Crocodile Trophy champion but Australian Adam Hansen will go into the 13-day mountain bike stage race - considered one of the world's hardest MTB races - with ‘Aussie underdog' status, when the 2005 event gets underway in Townsville, North Queensland today.
Hansen will once again lead the will lead the Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort team. Attending yesterday's pre-race briefing, he was matter of fact about his intentions in 2005, despite the fact he will be up against UCI World Cup Marathon Cross Country Champion, Mauro Bettin of Italy, who will head the rival Felt-Shimano Dream Team.
"I didn't come here to get second," Hansen told Cyclingnews. "I'm aiming to win it, but it will be harder than last year."
The 24 year old Australian, who had what he described as a "terrible year" racing in Europe with the Austrian based Elk Haus road team in 2005, is desperate to finish the year on a positive note. To help the cause, Hansen has brought with him two team-mates from Austria, including the well credentialed Stefan Rucker, who alongside Australian Joe McDonnell will be key supports.
Firing the first shots in what is sure to be a psychological war spanning the duration of the race, Hansen claimed the rival Felt-Shimano Dream Team lacked the edge of their 2004 lineup, which was headed by ‘the crazy man' Italy's Alberto Elli.
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