There are just five days to go until the 21st Crocodile Trophy starts in Cairns on Saturday, October 17 and makes it way to the Atherton Tablelands the following day.
With an international field, including Australia’s very own national marathon champion Brendan Johnson, leading the pack, the Croc Trophy’s 700km plus stage plan from Cairns to Port Douglas, with the Atherton Tablelands in between, is one of the toughest and most gruelling races on the International Cycling Federation (UCI) circuit.
Michael Trout, chair of Tropical Tablelands Tourism (TTT), said the UCI endorsed event had the highest possible category “S1”, offering valuable points to participants towards their international ranking.
“We are incredibly fortunate this world class race calls Tropical North Queensland home and from the rainforests to the outback and back to the beach, this region certainly puts on a show,” he said.
The event will run for nine days starting in Cairns before making its way to the Atherton Tablelands, Skybury Coffee Plantation and Wetherby Station, before finishing on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
“The competitors from 17 countries are in for a treat – jungle, single trails, river crossings, steep climbs and fast descents, old mining towns in the outback, huge farms and the scenic landscape of the Atherton Tablelands await,” Mr Trout added.
This year the high profile line-up include some of the best marathon and endurance racers in the world, who will fight for the podium spots in gripping stage races until the final day.
These include Greg Saw from Australia, who is defending his Crocodile Trophy title from 2014, Brendan Johnston, the Australian marathon national champion who will challenge the international contenders on his home ground and Urs Huber from Switzerland, who is one of the most successful endurance mountain bikers in the world and a double Crocodile Trophy Champion.
Other well known riders include Ondrej Foitek, the Czech racer who has claimed the Crocodile Trophy victory twice, Soren Nissen from Denmark who is regarded as the dark horse among the elite field and Nicholas Pettinà, the Italian marathon national champion.
Starting in Cairns on Saturday, October 17 at the Cairns Mountain Bike Park, Stage Two the next day, will see the riders cycle 97km with an elevation of 2200 metres to Lake Tinaroo. This will be a 9.30am race start with the front of the pack expected to arrive at 12.30pm.
Stage 3 from Lake Tinaroo to Atherton on Monday, October 19, will start at 8.45am at the Atherton Mountain Bike Park (MTB). Estimated time of finish is around 11.30am to 12pm. Supporters will be able to see the racers ride through Atherton towards the MTB park at around 8am as well as at the park.
Stage 4 on Tuesday, October 20, will be spent in Atherton, starting at the Coombra Station and ascending to the top of the Great Dividing Range, where they will ride south through the Herberton Range State Forest and loop back to the station.
Stage 5 on Wednesday, October 21 will travel 96km from Atherton to Irvinebank. This is not an ideal spectating stage as it goes deep into the Herberton Range State Forest, where it becomes very dry and the racers get a taste of the outback.
Stage 6 on Thursday, October 22 will be held in Irvinebank. This is a long and very challenging stage for the racers traversing 101km of rugged terrain. A technical feed zone will be set up only a few kilometres outside of Herberton on the road to Irvinebank (just past the hospital turn-off), where you will see the racers cross the highway. The best spectating spot will be in Irvinebank itself, where they will finish right in front of the Irvinebank Pub at roughly 11.30am.
Stage 7 on Friday, October 23 is the longest stage this year (127km) as they race to Skybury Tropical Plantation. See the riders at the highway crossing 6km outside of Dimbulah (West) from around 9.30am, where they turn into Leafgold Wire Road. The ideal vantage spot, however, is at Skybury Farmgate offering views over the entire event centre and the finish line. Grab a coffee, lean back and watch the racers arrive. Riders are expected to arrive from 12 noon.
Stage 8 (Saturday) will see the riders travel from Skybury to Wetherby Station, one of the oldest cattle stations in Australia along the infamous Gold Mining Trail. See the racers at the highway crossing near Mitchell Lake from around 9am. They will then race towards Kuranda State Forest on Hodzic Road, north. Await them at Wetherby Station from around11.30am.
Stage 9 will conclude the event at Four Mile Beach Surf Life Saving Club. This is a time-trial stage with a reverse starting order from 10am at Wetherby. Riders will arrive one by one along the beach and cross the finish line at the Surf Live Saving Club at approximately 11.30am.
For more information on the stages visit: http://crocodile-trophy.com/index.php?id=51&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=85&cHash=70e5c66e38d6aeffc180336061a05b83