Running since 1995, the Crocodile Trophy has a reputation as one of the toughest mountain bike stage races on the planet. But just how well do you know the route? The race’s distance and days have steadily dropped over the past years. And now the 8 day race tackles a compact route based primarily on the Atherton Tablelands, trading bull dust for trails, and long straight dirt roads for forest trails and mountain bike routes. Best of all, if you’re used to riding most days of the week, its more than likely within your ability.
The organisers have confirmed that they hahaves secured the event’s sanctioning from the international cycling federation (UCI) and that the 2017 Crocodile Trophy will be run as a category S2 race, which means that participants of the Elite male and female categories will race for international ranking points and a prize money pool.
The 2017 Crocodile Trophy route
Firstly, let’s look at the numbers. There are 575km to race over 8 days. That’s an average of 71.875km a day. This puts the Crocodile Trophy with shorter days than the Cape Epic in 2017 (86.375km daily average), and shorter than the 2017 edition of The Pioneer as well (77.857km daily average.
Of course, riding and racing is about more than distance, it’s about climbing and therefore hours on the bike too. The Crocodile Trophy’s route has just been reset, and we’ll follow up with exact details of climbing soon. But it’s fair to say that while the race isn’t flat, it’s not as ‘climby’ as other races. The Cape Epic had riders ascending an average of 1925m per day over 8 days, and The Pioneer had riders scaling an average of 2142.86m per day for a week. Having completed a stage race with an average of over 2700m of climbing per day for 8 days – the Crocodile Trophy truly can’t be feared as ‘too hard’.
The organisers of the 2017 Crocodile Trophy have announced major stage plan changes from the original course of the previous three to four years between Cairns and Port Douglas.
“We have an incredible local crew who have helped us link together some fantastic trails, which enables us to offer some of the favourites and a lot of new sections for our riders to enjoy”, said the event’s founder Gerhard Schoenbacher.
“We really appreciate the support of the local communities, the land owners and managers who give us permission to cross their properties and who help bring the Crocodile Trophy to life each year. Thanks to their support we can provide these incredibly unique riding experiences to our racers who come from all over the world and many Australians and locals will be at the start line this year once again”, he added.
The stages of the 2017 Crocodile Trophy
Stage 1 – Smithfield – 33km
This will be a lap race on a circuit laid out at Smithfield MTB Park – don’t expect to be riding Jacob’s Ladder or the Croc Slide, but do expect some high-intensity racing where gaps will appear at the front of the race. It’s an easy day to cook yourself with a later start time, so get onto recovery right away.
Stage 2 – Cairns – Lake Tinaroo – 72km
This day has a lot of climbing. After a neutral ride out of town, the race starts at the abse of the climb to Copperlode Dam. With view back to Cairns towards as the race climbs the route takes the riders through dense rainforest vegetation through Dinden National Park, across the dam and up another beast of a climb before travelling through farm land and forest roads to the shores of Lake Tinaroo.
Stage 3 – Lake Tinaroo – Tepon Equestrian Park, near Herberton – 103km
The start is at Lake Tinaroo and the route travels through Herberton State Forest and Mount Hypimamee National Park arriving at the Tepon Equestrian Park just outside of Herberton near a race course and air field.
Stage 4 – Kalunga – Skybury Coffee – 120km
This stage takes riders to Skybury Coffee plantation and north toward a more tropical landscape. Riders will go through the mining country around Irvinebank and Mutchilba with finish in Skybury. Expect rougher trails and hot conditions.
We’re staying at Skybury for two nights – there is a café with delicious coffee and pastries and cakes right at the event centre. The café veranda offers a stunning view across the tropics.
Stage 5 – Skybury Coffee Marathon (Mareeba Wetlands Circuit) – 53km
This is a 53km circuit around the Mareeba Wetlands with start and finish in Irvinebank. There are stunning billabongs along the way as well as incredible birds and wildlife.
Stage 6 – Skybury Coffee – Wetherby Station – 104km
Wetherby Station is the oldest operation cattle station in Australia and riders will be rewarded with juicy steaks that night for dinner! Lots of climbing through beautiful rainforests to get there. The stage will be fast from the gun, and small groups will form. The continual climbs and descents in the forest will test legs, and the final push to Wetherby may means many riders finish solo.
Stage 7 – Wetherby Station Marathon – 60km
A new circuit around Wetherby Station using the Twin Bridge Track around Black Mountain.
Stage 8 – Wetherby Station – Four Mile Beach – 30km
An amazing final stage down the infamous Bump Track – two World Heritage listed sites characterise the stage: “Where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef” – a stunning finish racing towards the line on Four Mile Beach. Only the RRR one day race has such a finish. This is an iconic finish line, an experience not to be missed.