The Crocodile Trophy is the oldest mountain bike stage race in the world and in 2014 will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In honour of this jubilee and major milestone for the event, its organisers decided to join the UCI.
The most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world will become a UCI event category S1. As an official UCI race the Crocodile Trophy will still be open for professionals, amateur racers as well as recreational cyclists.
The infamous event is not only the oldest and most renowned mountain bike stage race in the world, but it also features the biggest solo competitor field of any stage race of that dimension.
The organisers confirmed that for the 2014 anniversary race, there will be at least four completely new stages in the nine-day tour program. With a new and larger infrastructure the Crocodile Trophy will be able to host more participants than in previous years. The new stage plan through the remote Australian Outback and lush rainforests in Tropical Far North Queensland with the new stage finishes and spectacular tracks and trails will be publicized by the end of January.
The event dates are: 18th – 26th October 2014
Online registration has already been open since 1st December on www.crocodile-trophy.com!
On Sunday, 27th October 2013, the 19th Crocodile Trophy finished on Cooktown’s Grassy Hill and for the first time in eight years an Australian claimed the win.
Mark Frendo from Brisbane conquered the oldest and hardest mountain bike stage race in the world and after nine days, 900km and more than 15,000m of elevation finished in 30:40:17 ahead of the Canadian Cory Wallace and Jiri Krivanek from the Czech Republic.
Paul Mashford (AUS) is fourth and with the final stage win Josef Benetseder (AUT) finishes in fifth place. Fantastic result by Liesbeth Hessens from Belgium – the fastest woman finishes as 21st in the overall classification and wins ahead of the Italian racers Giordana Sordi and Maria Cristina Prati.
The oldest mountain bike stage race in the world started in Cairns on 19th October and took its riders across the Atherton Tablelands to historic mining towns deep in the Australian Outback.
The race tracks throughout the nine day event included singletrails in Smithfield, marathon races through rain forests, across Outback Highways and rough mining trails and the 2013 edition also included a time trial stage on day seven. Sandy terrain, corrugated roads, narrow and flowy singletrails, gruelling climbs and fast descends – the Crocodile Trophy showcased the best mountain bike trails that Far North Queensland has to offer.
Australian Mark Frendo conquers international field
More than 15 nations were represented and participants included pro-road and mountain bike riders as well as passionate cyclists, all of whom had the same goal: to race more than 900km and climb over 15,000m of elevation to experience the Australian Outback in the saddle of their bikes for the adventure of a lifetime. After the first training rides together in Cairns, as a newcomer to the mountain bike stage racing scene Mark Frendo was labelled as the “dark horse” and he delivered on his status from day one.
Mark Frendo won the first two stages of this year’s Crocodile Trophy – first the lap race at Smithfield’s MTB Park near Cairns and then the marathon stage two up towards the Atherton Tablelands and Lake Tinaroo. “I went into this race confidently – competing along-side Cory Wallace at the Mongolia Challenge I knew what it takes to race at his level”, the 28-year old rider from Brisbane said today. The mechanical engineer had to defend his early race lead in the final days against none other that the Canadian National Marathon Champion and Mongolia Challenge winner Cory Wallace who finished with a gap of more than 12 minutes in second.
European favourites retire early, Wallace defeated
The biggest favourites this year had been last year’s third and experience stage racer Wolfgang Krenn from Austria, the Czech cross-country ace Jan Fojtik and Cory Wallace, the Canadian Marathon National Champion. However, both Krenn and Fojtik were forced to retire from the race due to severe lower back pains – as Fojtik gave up after two and Krenn after three stages, the battle between the Australian contender Frendo and the North American favourite Wallace unfolded, which ended with the first Australian Crocodile Trophy win since 2005 by Adam Hansen.
Cory Wallace congratulated the Australian winner at the finish on Grassy Hill, “Mark [Frendo] had a fantastic race and made all the right moves. Sure I’m disappointed, but I love racing the Crocodile Trophy.” He added that he liked the variety of trails and the adventurous nature of the event and promised to be back in 2014. “I’m still content with my race. The Croc has the best mix of trails of any stage race I’ve ever competed in. Every day the scenery changes and the Outback is just so different from anywhere else – there’s snakes and spiders and scorpions. In Canada with our bears, at least you see ‘em coming”, he added with a grin.
Jiri Krivanek (CZE) finished in third in the overall classification after putting up a fierce fight for the position and was happy with his performance. “I’ll be back 100% next year as well”, the Czech rider agreed with Wallace.
Liesbeth Hessens dominates womens field
The Belgian adventure racer Liesbeth Hessens has been the undefeated womens stage winner for nine days in a row and takes out the race win. “This was the longest and hardest race I’ve done and I’m so happy that I did so well”, said an emotional Hessens at the finish.
One of the most impressive riders was Liesbeth Hessens, the Belgian rider, who took out every women’s stage win this year.
Living, working and training in Switzerland she said that she didn’t mind the climbing, but suffered in the heat at times, “The racing was tough but I just loved the adventure-side of the race. Every day we got to see a different part of this country and that’s what made it so special for me.
” Notably, Hessens finished 21st overall, which was her big goal from the beginning she said, “I don’t usually compete, but rather like riding and training in the Alps. But here I sort of got the racing bug and to finish as 21st in a field dominated by male riders, makes me very happy.” Hessens added that one of the most fun aspects was that so many different riders were summoned to the event, “I enjoyed the atmosphere out on track, I was usually racing with the master fields and I loved the camaraderie. You motivate each other, some people fight hard to make it through each day.”
The honorary “wooden spoon” went to David Vermander, a fellow Belgian rider. “I decided to race the Crocodile Trophy a bit more than a year ago, basically kicking off my training with buying a mountain bike”, he admitted. Vermander added that he had spent more than 51 hours in the saddle of his bike, who got standing ovations at the prize ceremony at Endeavour Park in Cooktown. “I will never forget this race and my fellow racers – everyone was so supportive and cheered me on when I came across the finish line everyday. That made me really proud of my achievements.”
The adventure of a lifetime
Stories like David Vermander’s are proof that the Crocodile Trophy is more than a mountain bike stage race for elite racers. For many riders to finish this gruelling race is a life-long dream coming true. The Crocodile Trophy also offers an Adventure Team category, where two riders can race together. This year two locals, Isaac Tonello and David Stellan, won the team challenge. It’s been known as the longest, hottest and most adventurous event with a mobile tent city being built up at every stage destination, which this year included cattle stations and remote National Parks near rivers and billabongs as well as sleepy mining villages that came to life with riders and visitors from all over the world. The logistical operation is mind-boggling: twelve trucks, eleven 4WD as well as crew cars accompany the riders and more than 70 staff were working everyday in kitchen, tent, feed zones, medical and organisational teams to keep the “Croc train” rolling.
Organiser Gerhard Schönbacher said that he and his team had already been scouting new and even more exciting race tracks for next year, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the iconic event, “The Crocodile Trophy is the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world. We will continue to feature a wide variety of stage routes including fun and exciting mountain bike sections as well as less technical yet tough trails and Outback Highways, which challenge the endurance skills of our riders.” The Crocodile Trophy will return to Cairns and Far North Queensland in October 2014.
Top Results – OVERALL:
Overall race victory ELITE Men:
1. Mark Frendo (AUS ) / #12 / Elite / 30:40:17
2. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Elite / Kona-MBC / 30:52:43 / + 00:12:26
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / Elite / PRESTIGE / 31:30:58 / + 00:50:41
4. Paul Mashford (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 32:22:25 / + 01:42:08
5. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #5 / Team Eybl / 32:42:47 / + 02:02:30
Overall race victory Women:
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 36:56:23 – 21st Overall
2. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 45:29:08 / +8:32:45
3. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 45:49:39 / +8:53:16
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 51:05:38 / +14:09:15
Race winners age categories:
M1: Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Bikepalast.com / 31:44:45
M2: Hans Planckaert (BEL) / #40 / Smart Cycling Team / 33:14:48
M3: Peter Selkrig (AUS) / #71 / Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing / 34:33:40
Full Results: http://crocodile-trophy.com/index.php?id=97 For more information visit www.crocodile-trophy.com
Austrian Josef Benetseder has won his second Crocodile Trophy stage today into Hope Vale.
The wide and open Outback Highways suited the European road racing pro and he crosses the line in 3:59:50 with a gap of almost six minutes to the main field, which arrived in big bunches and several finish sprints decided the final placings.
Mark Frendo from Australia still leads the race by almost 12 minutes ahead of Cory Wallace (CAN) and Jiri Krivanek (CZE).
Second in elite today went to last year’s fastest Australian Steve Rankine from Cape York (AUS) ahead of Jiri Krivanek (CZE).
Liesbeth Hessens finished today’s race only one and a half hours behind the stage winner and Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) races strongly, increasing her lead in the general women’s classification to 18 minutes against fellow Italian racer Giordana Sordi ahead of tomorrow’s final stage into Cooktown.
The second-last stage of the 19th Crocodile Trophy led riders out from the sleepy town of Laura onto Battle Camp Road into the Lakefield National Park and the scenery was dominated by the iconic Australian Outback landscape – wide and deep-red gravel highways under bright-blue skies. Kangaroos, lizards and all kinds of birds accompanied the riders as they were racing in radiating heat towards the coast and the Aboriginal town of Hope Vale.
Several river crossings provided a welcome cool spray of water and the terrain kept changing from rough and corrugated gravel roads to recently upgraded asphalt highways.
Ideal conditions for road racing pro Benetseder
“I have to admit that I had my eyes on this stage right from the start in Cairns”, admitted the victorious Austrian at the finish line. “I knew that after the second feed zone there would be some steep climbs and I used my chance to attack”, he explained his race tactics, which had him win his second stage and not coincidently on his home country’s National Day. “Today is a special day in Austria, we celebrate our National Day. "That was a big motivation for me – two years ago I lost a stage win in the finish corner on that day. I had some unfinished business at the Croc, but now I’ve got the stage win back”, said an emotional Benetseder.
Cory Wallace, one of the main favourites and currently second in the elite category behind the Australian Mark Frendo was disappointed with his race today, “I tried to chase Josef [Benetseder], but no one would work with me. Mark [Frendo] was obviously just keeping me at bay, but with today’s head wind I didn’t stand a chance keeping up with a road pro on my own.” He explained that a breakaway group of four had formed, which saw Benetseder escape – Wallace, Frendo and the Czech rider Jiri Krivanek couldn’t keep up with the fast pace and eventually let themselves fall back to the next bigger chaser group.
Frendo cautiously optimistic about tomorrow’s arrival in Cooktown
With a gap of almost 12 minutes to Cory Wallace, Mark Frendo for the first time showed some excitement. “My main fear now is a mechanical, I’ll be very careful tomorrow to keep it all together until Grassy Hill”, the humble U19 and U23 National MTB Champion said at the finish. The now 28-year old had just gotten back into racing and plans to compete in more stage races in future. “I raced with Cory at the Mongolia Challenge earlier in the year and got a good idea of what level of endurance it takes to have a chance to beat Cory. I trained hard and went into this race with confidence that I could doi it.” Frendo’s victory tomorrow would be the first Crocodile Trophy win since fellow Australian Adam Hansen’s double-victories in 2004 and 2005.
The estimated arrival for the Crocodile Trophy racers tomorrow in Cooktown is from 10.30am. They will have completed their last stage, which is a 50km leg with sandy terrain and river crossings from Hope Vale through Endeabour River National Park. The final challenge will be the 30% climb up to Grassy Hill, which mark’s Captain Cook’s landing spot in Australia almost 250 years ago.
For more information visit www.crocodile-trophy.com
Top Results – Stage 8:
1. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #3 / Team Eybl / 3:59:50
2. Steve Rankine (AUS) / #4 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 4:05:43 / +0:05:53
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / PRESTIGE / 4:05:45 / +0:05:55
4. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Kona-MBC / 4:05:46 / +0:05:56
5. Paul Mashford (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 4:05:46 / +0:05:56
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 4:30:02
2. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 4:56:43 / +00:26:41
3. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 5:22:20 / +00:52:18
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 6:22:04 / +01:52:02
Stage winners in other categories:
M1: Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Bikepalast.com / 4:07:34 / Category 1st
M2: Hamish Morrin (NZL) / #50 / 4:05:44
M3: Peter Selkrig (AUS) / #71 / Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing / 4:08:03 / Category 1st
Copyright Regina Stanger/Crocodile Trophy
Overall race lead ELITE Men:
1. Mark Frendo (AUS ) / #12 / Elite / 28:55:05
2. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Elite / Kona-MBC / 29:07:00 / +00:11:55
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / Elite / PRESTIGE / 29:45:34 / +00:50:29
4. Paul Mashford (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 30:36:03 / +01:40:58
5. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #5 / Team Eybl / 30:57:52 / +02:02:47
Overall race lead Women:
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 35:04:37
2. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 43:22:24 / +8:17:47
3. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 43:40:19 / +8:35:42
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 48:59:17 / +13:54:40
Full Results: http://crocodile-trophy.com/index.php?id=97
For the first time in eight years an Australian has won the Crocodile Trophy!
Mark Frendo conquered the oldest and hardest mountain bike stage race in the world and after nine days, 900km and more than 15,000m of elevation finished in 30:40:17 ahead of the Canadian Cory Wallace and Jiri Krivanek from the Czech Republic. Paul Mashford (AUS) is fourth and today’s stage winner Josef Benetseder finishes the 19th Crocodile Trophy in fifth place.
Fantastic result by Liesbeth Hessens – the fastest woman finishes 21st in the overall classification and wins ahead of the Italian racers Giordana Sordi and Maria Cristina Prati.
The 19th Crocodile Trophy finished today on Cooktown’s Grassy Hill. The oldest mountain bike stage race in the world had started last Saturday in Cairns and took riders across the Atherton Tablelands to historic mining towns deep in the Australian Outback.
The race tracks throughout the nine day event included singletrails in Smithfield, marathon races through race forests, across Outback Highways and rough mining trails as well as a time trial stage on day seven. Sandy terrain, corrugated roads, narrow and flowy singletrails, gruelling climbs and fast descends – the Crocodile Trophy showcased the best mountain bike trails that Far North Queensland has to offer.
Mark Frendo first Australian victor since 2005
“I’m so happy, it hasn’t set in really yet. But it's a big achievement for me and I'm proud to have claimed a win for Australia after such a long time”, said a relieved Mark Frendo at the finish line today who is the first Australian Crocodile Trophy winner since Adam Hansen in 2004 and 2005. The 28-year old had to defend his early race lead over the past few days against none other that the Canadian National Marathon Champion and Mongolia Challenge winner Cory Wallace who finished with a gap of more than 12 minutes. He was motivated now to keep racing more, but it was still too early to say if he would be at the start next year, the exhausted race winner added.
“I’ll be back for sure”, Cory Wallace promised instead. “This race is just too much fun, next year I’ll bring more Canadians – they will love this versatile race track!” Jiri Krivanek finished in third in the overall classification and was happy with his performance. “I’ll be back 100% next year as well”, the Czech rider agreed with Wallace.
Today’s stage was won in a finish sprint on the 30% gradient climb to the top of Grassy Hill, again by the Austrian Benetseder. “Today was a tough one – I could almost not get away from Frendo. He still attacked on the last 200m before the finish, but I managed to get ahead again”, said Benetseder who had won the Cooktown stage winner last year and had been keen to repeat his result.
Organiser Gerhard Schönbacher said that he and his team have already been scouting new and even more exciting race tracks for next year, “The Crocodile Trophy is the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world. We feature a wide variety of stage routes including fun and exciting mountain bike sections as well as less technical yet tough trails and Outback Highways, which challenge the endurance skills of our riders.” The Crocodile Trophy will return to Cairns and Far North Queensland in October 2014.
Top Results – Stage 9:
1. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #3 / Team Eybl / 01:44:55
2. Mark Frendo (AUS) / #12 / 01:45:12 / +0:00:17
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / PRESTIGE / 01:45:24 / + 0:00:29
4. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Kona-MBC / 01:45:43 / + 0:00:48
5. Steven Rankine (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 01:45:59 / + 0:01:04
M1: Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Bikepalast.com / 01:45:51 / Category 1st
M2: Peter Mühl (AUT) / #50 / 01:46:40
M3: Daniele Bertozzi (ITA) / #81 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 01:47:20
M3: Peter Selkrig (AUS) / #71 / Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing / 34:33:40
Full Results: http://crocodile-trophy.com/index.php?id=97
Australian Mark Frendo has won today’s time trial stage at Laura and is able to increase his general race lead by almost a minute.
Race favourite Cory Wallace wasn’t able to race away from his strongest rival this year, finishing in third behind Josef Benetseder from Austria. While Liesbeth Hessens again impressed the entire Crocodile Trophy rider field and crew by clocking in the 25th-fastest time, a race for places two and three is unfolding between Giordana Sordi and Maria Cristina Prati from Italy – not even eight minutes separate the two in the general women’s classification ahead of tomorrow’s marathon stage into the Aboriginal coastal community of Hopevale.
Under blue skies and in sweltering 40+ degree heat the Crocodile Trophy riders lined up for a 38-minute time-trial stage today at Laura. Starting in reverse order of the general classification with one-minute gaps the race track too them onto a corrugated main road out of Laura and then onto a smoother, yet partly sandy dirt track in the Lakefield National Park.
Potential Australian Crocodile Trophy victory imminent
“I’ll try to catch Jiri, but don’t really want to see Mark”, said Cory Wallace whose plan was not to be caught by race leader Mark Frendo who started one minute behind him and who was on the chase right away.
“I came up to Cory at about the half-way point and stayed a few hundred metres back just to catch my breath and recover a bit”, admitted Mark Frendo, who then attacked with about 5km to go. But Wallace wasn’t going to give up easily, catching Frendo just before the finish line, however, still 57 seconds slower, due to the time trial starting grid. Benetseder squeezed in between the two with a 24 second gap.
“I’m happy that today went so well, all I really wanted to do was contain any losses, because I knew that Cory would go hard”, concluded Frendo, admitting that he was slowly starting to dream of Cooktown and taking out the Crocodile Trophy victory for Australia for the first time since Adam Hansen’s win in 2005.
Rest day at the Crocodile Trophy
For supporters it was a welcome change to stay another night at a stage destination. No tents were to be packed up, the catering crew didn’t have to dismantle their entire Outback kitchen set up. One of them, Maarten Neyens had been accompanying the event as a supporter for his Lotto Belisol racing team mate Sander Cordeel.
However, since Sander’s crash and race pullout the two likable Belgians have been helping out in camp: Sander in the kitchen with one hand in a sling and Maarten building tents for the riders. Today Maarten couldn’t help but get a taste for Outback racing and was one of the starters at today’s time trial, which he completed in 1:18:05.
“Next year we’ll come again and race the entire Crocodile Trophy – what an adventure”, beamed Neyens after his race today, who said that former Croc-winner Adam Hansen, who races for the same pro-cycling team in Europe, had told them so much about his home country and the Crocodile Trophy that Sander had decided to participate this year.
“Being part of this event, travelling through the Outback and seeing the wide variety of terrain and tracks that you get to race makes me want to come back as a rider”, Neyens promised.
Tomorrow’s second-last stage will take the riders towards the coast again and camp will be set up in the Aboriginal community of Hopevale. Wide Outback highways and river crossings await the riders on the 113km and 1100m stage.
For more information, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com
Top Results – Stage 7:
1. Mark Frendo (AUS) / #12 / 1:10:31
2. Josef Benetseder (AUT) / #3 / Team Eybl / 1:10:55 / +0:00:24
3. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Kona-MBC / 1:11:28 / +0:00:57
4. Paul Mashford (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 1:13:13 / +0:02:42
5. Steve Rankine (AUS) / #4 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / 1:13:35 / +0:03:04
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 1:21:18
2. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 1:35:57 / + 0:14:39
3. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 1:39:58 / + 0:18:40
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 10:55:58 / + 0:29:41
M1: Mario Färberböck (AUT) / #33 / Bikepalast.com / 1:12:50 / Category 1st
M2: Peter Mühl (AUT) / #53 / 1:16:38
M3: Peter Selkrig (AUS) / #71 / Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing / 1:14:45
1. Mark Frendo (AUS ) / #12 / Elite / 24:49:16
2. Cory Wallace (CAN) / #2 / Elite / Kona-MBC / + 00:11:58
3. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) / #17 / Elite / PRESTIGE / + 00:50:33
4. Paul Mashford (AUS) / #5 / Tenni\’s – Cairns Home Loans / + 01:41:01
5. Matthew Page (AUS) / #9 / A Cycling/Pivot / + 02:05:14
1. Liesbeth Hessens (BEL) / #93 / 30:34:35
2. Giordana Sordi (ITA) / #91 / SKYsport-Italy / 38:17:59 / +7:43:24
3. Maria Cristina Prati (ITA) / #95 / GS Cicli Matteoni FRW / 38:25:41 / +7:51:06
4. Anne-Mette Mortensen / #92 / Team Fit 4 Run / 42:37:13 / +12:02:38
Stage Plan 2013:
stage 1 Smithfield (5 laps) / 35 km/900 m
stage 2 Cairns – Lake Tinaroo / 89 km/2500 m
stage 3 Atherton – Irvinebank / 80 km/2500 m
stage 4 Irvinebank – Mt. Mulligan / 118 km/1600 m
stage 5 Mt. Mulligan – Granite Creek Dam / 163 km/3000 m
stage 6 Granite Creek Dam – Laura / 116 km/1800 m
stage 7 Laura – Laura / 50 km/150 m – Time Trial
stage 8 Laura – Hope Vale / 113 km/1100 m
stage 9 Hope Vale – Cooktown / 50 km/500 m
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