Just a few weeks remain until the 16th edition of the Crocodile Trophy, where last year's top three finishers - Urs Huber, Bart Brentjens and Mike Mulkens - will return to do battle again this year. They'll be joined by Estonian road star, 11-time national champion, Jaan Kirsipuu, who has also won the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour de France. The Crocodile Trophy will happen from October 19-28.
It's a bit of a tradition for big names on the road scene to compete at the Crocodile Trophy, which is understood by many to be the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world. Kirsipuu would like to add the leader's jersey of the Crocodile Trophy to his collection.
In 2009, the Estonian demonstrated his seriousness as an off-road competitor. The now-40-year-old won the Estonian marathon national championships. He'll make the journey to Australia for the Crocodile Trophy with 2009 European marathon champion Allan Oras.
Kirsipuu will have his hands full against Worlds medallist Huber, Olympic champion Brentjens and the young Belgian Mulkens. Brentjens, in particular, is looking forward to better luck at what will be his second attempt at the Crocodile Trophy. In 2009, he missed out on the win by just one minute and 20 seconds after 10 stages of racing.
Defending champion Urs Huber, on the other hand, has already seven marathon victories under his belt in 2010 and will be coming into the race in top form.
Rene Haselbacher is another former road racer who will be contesting the race.
On a sad note, multi-time Race Across America (RAAM) winner Jure Robic, who was training for the 2010 edition of the Crocodile Trophy, was killed while training in September. It would have been Robic's fifth time participating in the race.
2010 Crocodile Trophy
October 19 - Stage 1: Cairns - Lake Tinaroo, 98km
October 20 - Stage 2: Lake Tinaroo - Granite Gorge, 122km
October 21 - Stage 3: Granite Gorge - Irvinebank, 128km
October 22 - Stage 4: Irvinebank - Chillagoe, 162km
October 23 - Stage 5: Chillagoe - Chillagoe, 100km
October 24 - Stage 6: Chillagoe - Mt. Mulgrave, 138km
October 25 - Stage 7: Mt. Mulgrave - Laura, 151 km
October 26 - Stage 8: Laura - Cooktown, 142km
October 27 - Stage 9: Cooktown - Ayton, 122km
October 28 - Stage 10: Ayton - Cape Tribulation (time trial), 38km