The Italian Nicholas Pettina has won the first stage of the Crocodile Trophy with a respectable lead of 3:18.07 minutes at Smithfield MTB Park in Cairns ahead of Urs Huber from Switzerland and the Australian Brendan Johnston. It was a hot start to the nine-day mountain bike stage race in Tropical North Queensland and the local racer Sarah White took full home advantage, taking an almost 6 minute lead in the elite women’s against the German Regina Genser.
Nicolas Pettina credited not only his cross-country race background for his win against one of the most high-profile elite men’s line-up in the history of the Crocodile Trophy. He also blamed a lucky charm – with his luggage still lost in transit he raced in the event cotton t-shirt and is cheekily contemplating keeping it that way.
“Today was a great start to the race, I love racing these kinds of trails – they suit my cross-country background…”, the Italian National Marathon U23 Champion said at the finish of today’s race, after he completed it in 1h30:42.98 which included five laps of a 6.5 km circuit at the Smithfield MTB Park just outside of Cairns.
Crocodile Trophy promotes mountain bike destination Tropical North Queensland internationally
Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive officer Alex de Waal said the Croc Trophy attracted widespread international media coverage, which was invaluable to the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef region.
“Mountain bike enthusiasts around the world know Ride Cairns is a world-class mountain biking destination with exciting trails across a diverse range of landscapes, including World Heritage rainforest, thanks to the publicity generated by the Croc Trophy,” he said.
“This helps raise the profile of Cairns and Great Barrier Reef as a must-do destination for recreational riders and encourages travellers to explore our region further.”
Urs Huber from Switzerland proves that the event’s powerful media campaign with distribution of reports, photos and videos all over the world not only attracts new racers every year, but also tempts them to come back. Ever since winning this event in 2009 and 2010, the Swiss Marathon Champion Urs Huber had wanted to race the Crocodile Trophy again.
“Following the race reports and the transformation of the event since then made me curious to race all the different terrains that are included now – I extremely enjoyed the Smithfield trails today”, he said and admitted that the hot temperatures and midday sun were tough on the body, but added that he was excited about the coming days and the challenges ahead, which will include bridging the almost three and a half minutes gap to Pettina.
The Australian National Marathon Champion Brendan Johnston took out the third spot today (+3:35.69 min) and said that he was looking forward to tomorrow’s marathon stage from Cairns onto the Atherton Tablelands.
Local lead in elite women’s
Two riders are competing in the elite women’s category in this year’s race – today Sarah White from Cairns took full advantage of racing on her home track and won against the German marathon-athlete Regina Genser only 23 minutes behind the men’s winner in a time of 1h53:39.92. “I tried to stay calm today and had a strong race”, said the 35-year old local rider and added that she would relax on the beach this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s second stage, which will take the riders to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.
After a neutral start at The Esplande in the centre of Cairns at 9:30am, the official race start will be 12 km outside of town and the total elevation to cover will be 1500 m.
TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 1h30:42.98
2. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 1h34:01.05 + 3:18.07 min
3. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 1h34:18.67 + 3:35.69 min
4. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 1h34:53.44 + 4:10.46 min
5. Milton Ramos (ESP) #6 // Intense Tow-Car // 1h35:23.60 + 4:40.62
TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 1h53:39.92
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 1h59:25.30 +5:45.38 min