The 19th Crocodile Trophy starts this Saturday with a cross country race at Smithfield in Cairns. As the world’s oldest mountain bike stage race the Crocodile Trophy has become known as one of the hardest and most adventurous races around. This year more than 80 riders will race for 900 km through the Outback and the rain forests in Queensland’s Tropical North including Canada’s National Marathon Champion, Cory Wallace, last year’s third finisher Wolfgang Krenn from Austria and Lotto Belisol pro-team rider, Sander Cordeel from Belgium.
Organisers of the Crocodile Trophy confirmed today that Sander Cordeel, pro-road cyclist from the Belgian Lotto Belisol team 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, 19 October. “I was chatting with my team mate Adam Hansen about the Crocodile Trophy the other day and he talked me into signing up,” Sander 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”, the 25-year old road cyclist added.
One rider who has been missed from a lot of the pre-Croc Trophy fanfare is Mark Frendo. Having won the U19 and U23 XC National Titles, Frendo returned to elite racing this year, and secured the Queensland Road Race Title in August, winning solo from a strong break of 8. He was training for the Mongolia Bike Challenge, where he placed 2nd on the first stage, and was on his way to securing 2nd on GC before illness knocked him out of the race.
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.”
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’s National Marathon Champion, Cory Wallace, who already has two 5th places at the Crocodile Trophy to his name and last year’s third place getter Wolfgang Krenn from Austria, 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. Also Cory 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!”
The Australian contingent is strong though, with Steve Rankin returning after winning the fastest Australian classification in 2012. He’s got his Tenni’s/Cairns Home Loans team mates there for support too. Adam Cobain has tasted success in International MTB Stage Race success, and is part of the Amy Gillett Foundation Team – you can donate to the foundation online.
Matt Page didn’t have the WEMBO experience he was after, but should be able to use his 2012 Croc Trophy experience to great effect in 2013. Once you know your body can do it, you can race it a little better.
There are plenty more contenders, but there is a very good chance these are some of the riders who will be animating the race. You can view the full entrants list online.
stage 1 Smithfield (5 laps) / 35 km/900 m
stage 2 Cairns – Lake Tinaroo / 89 km/2500 m
stage 3 Atherton – Irvinebank / 80 km/2500 m
stage 4 Irvinebank – Mt. Mulligan / 118 km/1600 m
stage 5 Mt. Mulligan – Granite Creek Dam / 163 km/3000 m
stage 6 Granite Creek Dam – Laura / 116 km/1800 m
stage 7 Laura – Laura / 50 km/150 m – Time Trial
stage 8 Laura – Hope Vale / 113 km/1100 m
stage 9 Hope Vale – Cooktown / 50 km/500 m