We’re on the cusp of the 20th Crocodile Trophy, and this year there are more Australians competing than ever before. From elite men and women, through to all age groups, there are strong Australian riders. Traditionally, it was easy to refer to ‘The Croc’ as a European race run for European racers. But over the past few years, and quite possibly thanks to the influence of Austrian-Australians Martin and Juliane Wisata, the Croc has become for more attractive to mountain bikers, and Australians.
Here’s a quick look at some of the Australian riders in this years race.
There are four elite men who categorise themselves as Australian. The Elite category is UCI ranked this year, meaning real prize money, and ranking points. I’m actually racing here, more for the challenge than the prestige. I’m hoping experience counts, and muscle memory. But don’t come to a stage finish to watch me cross the line first.
Dan McNamara might not be as well known in MTB circles, but hailing from the city of athletes (Canberra) and with a strong road pedigree, he will be no third wheel on the Vie 13 Kustom Apparel team.
Greg Saw – I’ll be frank I don’t recognise his name. But his team sounds Norwegian, and a quick search shows he battles with marathon men like Karl Platt on the world stage. Greg might be vying for the Australian and overall leaders jersey.
If you are familiar with the Shimano MTB GP run by Rocky Trail, you’d know Grant Webster. Grant rode a great season last year to win the series, and will be looking to capitalise on that consistency at the Croc Trophy.
There are two Elite women in the race, Imogen Smith and Cristina Begy. Imogen has been racing about 3x as much as normal this year, and written about her preparations already. Cristina Begy is a little different. Google says she’s won the Leadville 100, and CX World Champs, and was a Colorado resident. But her entry says she has taken Australian citizenship – so this could be a great battle between two Australian elite women.
After the Elite come the age groups, or Amateur categories. These are rich with Australians. It is hard to ignore Andrew Lloyd in the A1 category. He’s been a consistent performer for two years at least, and has really increased the depth of his racing. He will ride well overall, but may well lead the small A1 category too. Andrew Hall (Vie 13 Kustom Apparel) could be described in a similar way in the A2 category. With countless kilometres of MTB racing in his legs, and a passion for training and data, he will race very well in the overall, and could lead the A2 category, which is quite deep with talent.
The A3 group is the largest, with 33 riders. Jason Chalker ((Vie 13 Kustom Apparel) is the stand out Australian in this bunch, with Croc experience and a strong racing pedigree. Tim Goulding is no stranger to a remote stage race after the Mongolia Bike Challenge in 2013, and there is also Clayton Locke from the Il Pastaio/Rocky Trail Racing Team, plus local Clayton Locke and a few others. But Chalks is likely to be the main contender out of the A3 Australians.
Moving to A4 and 4 out of the 11 in that category are Australians. Eyes can’t go past one of the most competitive racers out there, Garry James. Likely to finish top 20 overall, he’ll have some competition in his category as plenty of the Europeans know how to pedal. Greg Parr is along for another Croc, and Andrew Radcliffe and John Cosgriff are also along for the experience.
Sharman Parr is also lining up again in women. She battled through and finished the Croc in 2011 and will surely have a different experience this time around. Tania Tryhorn is the other amateur Australian woman in the race.
Be sure to follow our daily coverage here on MarathonMTB.com, and via twitter @marathonMTB