Torrential rain hit the Crocodile Trophy for a second day in a row on Wednesday, creating havoc for race organisers who were able to re-route the course in order to allow racing to begin after Tuesday’s neutralised stage.
The downpour meant that communication of stage results is likely to be delayed until tomorrow, however we spoke to members of the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team who were able to report that racing had indeed got underway.
After 17km of neutral riding to Atherton, the race reconvened to allow hand-bike riders and back markers to catch up for the race start. Unfortunately for competitors the weather again closed in. However a re-routed course, which included significant stretches of bitumen, meant the flag could be dropped.
The field was immediately presented with a climb to start the stage, which fractured the race into groups.
Subaru-MarathonMTB.com’s Justin Morris and Graeme Arnott were able to work their way into a group of five riders, the third group on the road. The quintet were able to chase down the second group of the road, rejoining them just before the stage’s third feed station.
The final 37km were run at a frantic pace, with Arnott losing touch with the front of the race with 15km to go. However, Morris dug deep to finish the stage in fifth place and the first Australian across the line.
“The course towards the end was really undulating, uphill on the tar,” said Arnott after the truncated stage. “Justin had a really good race. It was a great result. There’s a lot of really strong guys here, some name’s you’ve heard, but other guys you’ve never heard of who are just so strong; Euro strong.”
Morris was modest in his summation of the days events, and expressed his sympathy for race organisers, who have been presented with challenging circumstances.
“We haven’t really had a real stage yet. One was neutralised and today was modified somewhat,” said Morris. “But we’re supposed be riding away from the rain tomorrow so hopefully things will improve.
“I feel sorry for [the organisers]. I just don’t think they’ve had to deal with rain at the Crocodile Trophy before.”
“Everyone we spoke to about this race says ‘scorchingly hot, bone dry’,” added Arnott. “All the locals we spoke to today have been saying ‘oh, we’ve never seen it so wet’.”
With the weather system causing the heavy rain expected to continue for another 24 hours, the outlook for Friday’s third stage is yet to be confirmed.