Imogen Smith and Greg Saw are the Elite Champions of the 2014 Crocodile Trophy. The 20th edition of the hardest mountain bike stage race in the world finished today at the breathtakingly beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. The final stage was a time trial race from Weatherby Station via the infamous Bump Track to Port Douglas.
“I raced the Crocodile Trophy to reconnect with my home-country and to cure my homesickness for Australia”, said Greg Saw, the 2014 Elite Men’s Champion of the 20th Crocodile Trophy. The Australian-born now lives in Norway as a pro-cyclist and surprised many of the UCI Elite mountain bikers at the start of the nine day mountain bike stage race in Tropical North Queensland, which is generally considered to be the hardest one of it’s kind in the world and certainly the biggest and most prestigious one for individual participants. Endorsed by the International Cycling Federation (UCI) as an S1 event, the highest possible status for stage races, the Elite riders were able to collect valuable UCI points, which will contribute to the global ranking of cyclists – and important for Olympic campaigns.
Greg Saw completed the race from Cairns via the Atherton Tablelands, Irvinebank, Skybury Coffee Plantation and the historic Wetherby Cattle Station to Port Douglas in 26h53:47 and said that it was one of the most important victories in his cycling careers as he was joined by almost 100 Crocodile Trophy finishers on Four Mile Beach, which was the destination of the event for the first time in its history.
Saw’s female counterpart, Imogen Smith completed the gruelling event across rough outback roads, tight singletrack, rainforest trails and a 4km finish on Four Mile Beach in 36h12:26. Imogen Smith stated today that it was the physical endurance skills that will have riders succeed in this event, but that one’s mental strength played a big role in finishing nine days of racing with a smile on your face. “I would love to see more women compete in the Crocodile Trophy. This was the hardest stage race I have ever done and I really enjoyed the racing experience and the diversity of trails and the parts of Australia that you won’t get to visit otherwise”, an elated Imogen Smith said today at the finish, adding and agreeing with Greg Saw that she might just come back next year to defend their titles. There were also four women in the amateur category – although only three completed the race. 2nd place did two 4hr rides in preparation! Surely there’s some untapped talent there.
Ramses Bekkenk wins today’s time trial
The fastest rider to complete today’s 30km time trial from Wetherby Catte Station via the infamous Bump Track was Ramses Bekkenk, even though he had worn his skinsuit the previous day – perhaps by mistake. Bekkenk had the fastest time of five competitors to clock in a race time of under one hour. In today’s general classification, Bekkenk finished in 58:13.62 ahead of Milton Ramos from Spain (+10.69), Greg Saw (+47.99), the Italian former pro-cyclist Max Lelli (+1:15.65) and Australia’s Ondrej Slezak (+1:19.94).
Overall after nine stages and a gap of 7:53 minutes, Cory Wallace (CAN) came in second behind Greg Saw. Third was Milton Ramos (ESP) ahead of Ramses Bekkenk (NED) and the Hungarian Márton Blazsó.
Andrew Hall from Canberra in Australia was awarded with the fastest Amateur and fastest Australian title of the 2014 event and Guido Thaler was the fastest Austrian across all nine stages of the event.
Garry James won the A4 category, winning 7 from 9 stages.
The race organiser, Gerhard Schönbacher, himself an ex-pro cyclist from Austria, was pleased with this year’s event and today confirmed that arrangements for 2015 were already under way. He added that the race route was so popular with riders this year that it would be kept very similar for the 21st edition of the Crocodile Trophy.
Top Results Stage 9:
1. Ramses Bekkenk (#5) / Nieuwveen, NED / NED19760727 / Koga KMC / 58:13.62
2. Milton Ramos (#71) / Sabijanigo, ESP / ESP19791212 / Intense-TowCar / 58:24.31 +00:10.7
3. Greg Saw (#21) / Kongsberg, NOR / NOR19770416 / iHus-Spiuk Norge / 59:01.61 +00:48.0
4. Ondrej Slezak (#19) / Sydney, AUS / AUS19830602 / Way2live Quantum Racing / 59:33.56 +01:19.9
5. Cory Wallace (#2) / Jasper, CAN / CAN19840713 / KONA Factory Team / 1h00:07.72 +01:54.1
1. Imogen Smith (#30) / AUS19810203 / Subaru-MarathonMTB.com / 1h15:24.15
Remaining category winners:
Amateur 1 (<30 yrs): Jindra Knot (#54) / Sydney, AUS / 1h01:06.90
Amateur 2 (30+): Andrew Hall (#72) / Canberra, AUS / 1h02:42.31
Amateur 3 (40+): Max Lelli (#11) / Milan, ITA / 59:29.27
Amateur 4 (50+): Davide Cassani (#12) / Milan, ITA / 1h09:05.28
Amateur Female: Sandra Starkey (#119) / Melbourne, AUS / 1h20:43.22
Overall Results after 9 Stages:
1. Greg Saw (#21) / Kongsberg, NOR / NOR19770416 / iHus-Spiuk Norge / 26h53:47
2. Cory Wallace (#2) / Jasper, CAN / CAN19840713 / KONA Factory Team / 27h01:40 +0:07:53
3. Milton Ramos (#71) / Sabijanigo, ESP / ESP19791212 / Intense-TowCar / 27h16:56 +0:23:09
4. Ramses Bekkenk (#5) / Nieuwveen, NED / NED19760727 / Koga KMC / 27h27:07 +0:33:20
5. Márton Blazsó (#7) / Szeged, HUN / HUN19800526 / Kross Hungary / 27h46:37 +0:52:50
1. Imogen Smith (#30) / AUS19810203 / Subaru-MarathonMTB.com / 36h12:26
Remaining category winners:
Amateur 1 (<30 yrs): Jindra Knot (#54) / Sydney, AUS / 30h40:11
Amateur 2 (30+): Andrew Hall (#72) / Canberra, AUS / 28h55:54
Amateur 3 (40+): Max Lelli (#11) / Milan, ITA / 30h13:44
Amateur 4 (50+): Garry James (#130) / Canberra, ACT / 32h10:24
Amateur Female: Sandra Starkey (#119) / Melbourne, AUS / 41h03:07
Full results are online.