The most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world will return to Tropical Far North Queensland on 20th October with the largest field of participants ever and with a bang: paying tribute to the “Aussie way of mountain bike endurance racing on single trails” by using the former World Cup tracks at Smithfield in Cairns for stage one. The 30 km, multi lap race on the technically challenging terrain will also allow local Australian riders to race with the International Crocodile Trophy crowd. Also stage two from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo will be open for any rider to join in.
The Crocodile Trophy is known as the hardest, longest and most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world. More Australian and New Zealand racers then ever before participated in the Crocodile Trophy in 2011. They raced hard and finished with a win in the Masters and a fourth place in the overall classification by Graeme Arnott (Subaru-MarathonMTB.com) and a further five Australians in the Top 20.
This year the number of participants has almost doubled and more than 150 riders have already signed up. Also the biggest ever field of Australian Crocodile Trophy racers is expected to participate. Australian riders include Jason English, Australian 24H Solo World Champion and Justin Morris, best Elite Australian finisher at the Crocodile Trophy 2011. Among the international field of competitors are high-profile names including the last year’s top 3 with winner Jeroen Boelen (NED), Wolfgang Krenn (AUT) and Josef Benedseder (AUT). Canadian marathon racer and Mongolia Bike Challenge winner Cory Wallace will also be at the start line alongside Spaniard and Red Bull racer Josef Ajram.
Organisers are also excited about the largest ever female contestant field at a Crocodile Trophy – seven female athletes will be at the start line in Cairns, including Australian triathlete and Ironman racer Kate Major.
In a first for the “Croc”, it will kick off on 20 October with two public race stages as part of the Crocodile Trophy MTB Festival hosted by the local Cairns MTB Club. The first stage will be a 32 km lap race at the Smithfield World Cup tracks and the second stage will be a 92 km marathon race from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. Riders are invited to sign up via links on the Crocodile Trophy or the Cairns MTB Club websites.
After the Smithfield stage, the following eight days will challenge the technical skills of participants more than ever before. Generally, the stages will be shorter, but they will include considerably more mountain bike tracks this year. Overall, the participants will ride for almost 1000 km with the longest stage covering 136 km.
All Crocodile Trophy racers are in for the adventure of a lifetime. Each night camp will be set up in mining towns and at cattle stations in some of the most remote parts of the Australian Outback. It is a tough event that goes over nine stages. Race finishers say that the pace is fast and the competition fierce. The race track takes them over corrugated fire trails, through river crossings, down technical descents and through the forbidding landscape of rocky service roads without an inch of shade. And then there is the scenery – dark red sand, vegetation ranging from barren bush to lush rainforest.
The Outback will continue to be centre-stage also in 2012 with camps at the cattle stations of Mt. Mulligan, Mitchell and Palmer River. The seventh stage will take the riders to Maytown. Once a big gold mining centre, this Outback town will also be the focus of world-wide attention three weeks after the Crocodile Trophy makes its stop there this year. Maytown has been identified as the best place to watch the “Solar Eclipse“ 14th November with more than 10,000 people expected spectators.
Many sections of the infamous Bicentennial National Trail will this year also be part of the stage plan of the endurance race in the Australian Outback. And after a ten year break also the legendary stage through the “Quinkan Aboriginal Reserver” from Maytown to Laura will be revived and included in this year’s Croc Trophy.
The new “Croc Adventure” team category will be offered this year for the first time and is exclusively for teams of two riders. Its participants are required to ride together and cross the finish line each day not more than two minutes apart from each other.
The 18th Crocodile Trophy will have a more international field than ever. Apart from numerous Europeans and Australians, riders from countries like South Korea, Mexico, the US and South Africa have already signed up as well.
A crowd of 300 athletes, supporters and organisational crew will arrive at the finish line in Cooktown on 28th October. And after nine days in the Outback, Grassy Hill in Cooktown, the spectacular landing site of the legendary Captain Cook, will once again be the riders’ final destination and one of the most magnificent and rewarding highlights of the Crocodile Trophy 2012.