Crocodile Trophy counts down to 2014 race start

All eyes on Tropical North Queensland for nine days of mountain bike racing

The Crocodile Trophy will return to Tropical North Queensland from October 18-26. As a UCI S1 categorized race, the event is now ranked as the biggest mountain bike stage race in the world for individual participants. In its 20th year even more of the popular Cairns and Atherton mountain bike trails will be at the heart of the racing action. New stage destinations like the Skybury Coffee Plantation near this year's race finish in the holiday resort of Port Douglas also promise perfect settings for race participants and supporters to enjoy Queensland's rough Outback, it's lush rainforests and beautiful beaches up close.

The world's oldest and said to be the toughest international mountain bike race is set to take place in the remote far north of Australia and will see over 100 professional and amateur riders from around the world cycle 900km (nearly 560 miles) - basically nine marathons in a row. The participants will ride nine stages through lush rainforests, dry intense heat of the Outback and mountain trails climbing up to 2,500m per day, finishing on the tropical coast of Queensland.

There is no denying that in this part of the world the race can be hot. Having said this, there are lots of opportunities to escape and cool down in lakes and in the shade of the rainforest, where more than half the race is held. In addition there are always cool showers available to the riders at the end of each day as well as a buffet with nutritious food, which is prepared by a chef.

One of the additional challenges the competitors face is that they must use the same bike and wheels for the entirety of the race. To support this, the race organisers offer bike maintenance and to keep the the riders in saddle medical support is on offer. While there is a variety of sleeping accommodation on offer for the nine days, most competitors still camp. To deliver this event, an organisational crew of more than 70 staff is travelling with the racers, including kitchen crew, medical staff, operations managers and a media support team with camera crews and photographers.

One of the most passionate "Croc ambassadors" is Canadian National Marathon Champion, Cory Wallace, who will be at the start in Cairns for the fourth time.

"The Croc has the best diversity of any race I have done as we race on trails, outback roads and rough mining trails through a variety of terrain including jungles and the dry dusty outback," said the 2013 Crocodile Trophy runner-up Wallace, who is one of this year's strongest title contenders.

"I love this stage race more than any other because it is by far the most challenging race worldwide I know of. In addition it is raced in one of the most beautiful areas in the world."

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