By John Flynn
The leader of Australia's Flight Centre Scott Team, David Wood, is predicting a hot 2007 edition of the Crocodile Trophy, both in terms of furnace-like temperatures as well as a record-sized peloton. The race starts in just a few days, on October 23, and wraps up ten stages later on November 1.
Wood lives, works and trains on the merciless Australian Outback roads of Far North Queensland. The three-time protagonist and stage winner is ready to race after a recent confidence-boosting podium placing with his team at the Australian 24 hour mountain bike championships last weekend in Canberra.
"They've got to be the best blokes going," Wood said of his Croc Trophy team-mates Tim Bennett and rookie Ryan Hawson. Wood and Bennett also have the experience of marathon world cup events in their legs. They don't know how their form will hold up over the multi-day Crocodile Trophy, but the team is aiming for an overall podium win.
"This year there are more contenders for GC than there ever have been," Wood said after studying the start list. He added as warning to those travelling from cooler climates, "Unlike last year it's hot already up here. It's going to be hotter and harder than any Crocodile Trophy in history I suspect."
Organizer Gerhard Schoenbacher made one key change to the course for 2007. He cancelled a stage from Mount Mulgrave to King Junction, deeming it unfit for travel for the event support vehicles.
"We would like to have included the stage, but there was no safe way for our support vehicles to reach the finish of the stage and be there in time for the riders," Schoenbacher said. "You might call the stage 'horse categorie'. That is not a spelling mistake; the track was only safe for horses or brumbies as they call them here."
The 2007 edition will follow the path of the 2006 race over its final days, including a key 148km stage from Mount Mulgrave to the mythical Quinkan country of Laura. The journey from Cooktown to the finish line at Cape Tribulation will be broken into two stages, mirroring last year's race finish. In total, protagonists will cover 1234 kilometres over a six-day stretch between Woombinoo and The Daintree, averaging almost 140 kilometres per day. Last year's race was won by Christoph Stevens of Belgium.
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