The 19th annual Crocodile Trophy will start this Saturday with a multi-lap race at Smithfield on the World Cup course in Cairns, Australia. As the world's oldest mountain bike stage race, the Crocodile Trophy has become known as the hardest and most adventurous event.
This year more than 80 riders will race for 900km through the outback and the rain forests in Queensland's Tropical North including Canadian Marathon National Champion Cory Wallace, last year's third place finisher Wolfgang Krenn from Austria and Lotto Belisol WorldTour team rider Sander Cordeel from Belgium.
Organisers of the Crocodile Trophy confirmed today that Cordeel will be at the start line in Cairns this week. En route from the Tour of Beijing, Cordeel will arrive in Cairns just in time to race the first stage's lap race at Smithfield MTB Park on Saturday, October 19.
"I was chatting with my teammate Adam Hansen about the Crocodile Trophy the other day, and he talked me into signing up," the 25-year-old Cordeel said of his last-minute decision to travel to Australia for the nine-day stage race through the outback of Far North Queensland. "It has always been my dream to do this race."
Wallace and Krenn strongest contenders this year
Hot weather conditions, rough terrain and the images of racers pedalling towards the horizon on endless outback highways have characterised the race coverage since the event's inception two decades ago. This year, the event promises again to be a challenging stage race.
"Part of the Crocodile Trophy fascination is the sheer adventure that our riders will experience. We will be showcasing some of the best mountain bike trails in the Cairns region and cross the Atherton-Mareeba Tablelands to take them deep into the Australian Outback," said organizers.
The remote outback town Irvinebank and the Mt Mulligan cattle station will be two of the stage destinations next week before the riders and more than 80 supporters and crew arrive at the historic gold-mining town of Laura, where an individual time trial will add to the challenge on day seven.
The strongest international contenders for the win this year are Canadian Marathon National Champion Wallace, who already has two fifth places at the Crocodile Trophy to his name and last year's third place getter Krenn, who also sees the Czech rider Jan Fojtik as a major competitor.
"Cory Wallace and Jan Fojtik are my main opponents, I think this year. The Crocodile Trophy is a tough event, you have to be ready for anything," Krenn said of his competition.
Wallace is ready to claim this year's win, "I expect a lot of high-end competition from both Australia and Europe at the Croc this year and will be ready to battle whoever shows up!"
After a stop-over at the Aboriginal community of Hopevale on day eight, the Crocodile Trophy will finish in Cooktown on Sunday, October 27 with rewarding ocean views and the Great Barrier Reef from the top of Grassy Hill.
For more event information, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com.
2013 Crocodile Trophy
Stage 1: Smithfield (five laps), 35km (900m climbing)
Stage 2: Cairns - Lake Tinaroo, 89km (2500m climbing)
Stage 3: Atherton - Irvinebank, 80km (2500m climbing)
Stage 4: Irvinebank - Mt. Mulligan, 118km (1600m climbing)
Stage 5: Mt. Mulligan - Granite Creek Dam, 163km (3000m climbing)
Stage 6: Granite Creek Dam - Laura, 116km (1800m climbing)
Stage 7: Laura - Laura, 50km (150m climbing) (individual time trial)
Stage 8: Laura - Hope Vale, 113km (1100m climbing)
Stage 9: Hope Vale - Cooktown, 50km (500m climbing)