Over ten days and more than 1,200 kilometres across the rainforests and outback of North Australia – more than 90 mountain bike riders are ready to fight against each other and their inner selves in a demanding race through the difficult terrain of Far North Queensland.
The 17th Crocodile Trophy will see a new battle between Swiss champion Urs Huber, former Olympic champion Bart Brentjens and Belgian rider Mike Mulkens. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the last two years are back with the same ambition, to win this arduous mountain bike race.
"I would be the first rider to win this race three times in a row. The Crocodile Trophy is known all over the world, which motivates me even more," said Huber. The 26-year-old Swiss rider has already won eight marathon races this year, including the Craft Bike Transalp, the Grand Raid and the Dolomiti Superbike.
"He is indeed the man to beat," said Bart Brentjens. The former world and Olympic champion's main occupation nowadays is to manage his own mountain bike team. Occasionally he does compete in some races. "At my age I have to pick out my races and focus on them specifically. The Crocodile Trophy is one of those races. I'm afraid I will come back to this race till I've finally won it. On two occasions Huber was better than me. Not this time I hope."
For Brentjens the lead out to the race could have been better as the 43-year-old Dutch rider arrived with fever in Cairns. Both riders will have to face some 90 competitors. Amongst them are road pro rider Kevin Hulsmans and former pro rider René Haselbacher.
Among the almost 30 Australians this year is 24-Hour Solo World Champion Jessica Douglas. "I have had a few hectic days, but I am happy to be finally in Cairns and can´t wait to head out onto the first stage tomorrow. From here onwards, I just need to ride!" said the endurance racer from Victoria. Further Australians include Cairns-local Steve Petre (M1) and with a huge Aussie Masters 1 (30+) field, elite riders include Sam Morgen, Chris Hellman, Sam McGregor and Justin Morris.
Four tandem riders, three women and two hand bikers will start as well on Tuesday morning on Cairns Esplanade. Not all of the 90 riders will finish this world's longest and hardest mountain bike adventure. Heat and fatigue will play their role. Tomorrow's first stage from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo is already very demanding.