The Crocodile Trophy will return to its home in Tropical Far North Queensland on October 20 with the largest field of participants ever and with a bang by paying tribute to the Aussie way of mountain bike endurance racing on singletrack.
For the first time, the former World Cup trails at Smithfield in Cairns will be included for stage 1 of the Crocodile Trophy. Furthermore, the 30km lap race on the technically challenging terrain will allow local Australian riders to race with the International Crocodile Trophy crowd. Likewise, the 92km marathon stage 2 from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo will be open for any rider to join in.
The Crocodile Trophy is known by many as the hardest, longest and most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world. This year, the number of participants has almost doubled and more than 150 riders have already signed up.
Among the international field of competitors are high-profile names including last year's podium getters, marathon champion Wolfgang Krenn and fellow Austrian road hill climb champion Josef Benedseder as well as Ondrej Fojtik, the Czech Crocodile Trophy winner from 2008 and runner-up in 2004 and 2007. 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 and Austrian road talent Patrick Konrad.
In 2011, many Australian and New Zealand racers participated in the Crocodile Trophy. They raced hard and finished with a win in the masters and a fourth place in the overall classification by Graeme Arnott and a further five Australians in the top 20. For this year, the biggest ever field of Australian Crocodile Trophy racers is expected to participate. Australians include Jason English, Australian 24-hour Solo World Champion and Justin Morris, best elite Australian finisher at the Crocodile Trophy 2011.
Organisers are excited about the largest ever women's field at a Crocodile Trophy - seven female racers will be at the start line in Cairns, including Australian triathlete and Ironman racer Kate Major.
For 2012, the Crocodile Trophy is introducing a two-person category.
Adventure in the Australian Outback
After the previously mentioned Smithfield stage 2, the following eight days will challenge the technical skills of participants more than ever before. Generally, the stages will be shorter, but they will include considerably more mountain bike tracks this year. Overall, the participants will ride for almost 1000km with the longest stage covering 136km and they are in for the adventure of a lifetime.
Each night, camp will be set up in mining towns and at cattle stations in some of the most remote parts of the Australian Outback. It is a tough event that goes over nine stages. Race finishers say that the pace is fast and the competition fierce. The race track takes them 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, vegetation ranging from barren bush to lush rainforest.
The Outback will continue to be centre-stage also 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 people expected spectators.
Many sections of the infamous Bicentennial National Trail will this year also be part of the stage plan of the endurance race in the Australian Outback. And after a 10-year break, the legendary stage through the Quinkan Aboriginal Reserver from Maytown to Laura will be revived and included in this year's Croc Trophy.
A crowd of 300 athletes, supporters and organisational crew will arrive at the finish line in Cooktown on October 28. And after nine days in the Outback, Grassy Hill in Cooktown, the spectacular landing site of the legendary Captain Cook, will once again be the riders' final destination and one of the most magnificent and rewarding highlights of the Crocodile Trophy 2012.