Record-breaking sixth Crocodile Trophy race for Austrian Martin Wisata
The 21st Crocodile Trophy will start with a lap race at Smithfield MTB Park in Cairns tomorrow, Saturday 17 October. Cyclists from all over the world will compete in the nine-day mountain bike stage race from Cairns to Port Douglas via the Atherton Tablelands, Skybury Coffee Plantation and Wetherby Station. With a stellar elite line-up of some of the best marathon and endurance athletes in the world, the majority of the rider field is packed with amateur mountain bikers who seek the adventure of exploring Tropical North Queensland on their bikes. Among them is the Austrian Martin Wisata who will make Crocodile Trophy history with a record-breaking sixth participation at this gruelling race this year.
The Crocodile Trophy is known as the oldest and most iconic mountain bike stage race in the world. The stage plan is the most versatile of its kind – the expected 100 competitors will race for nine days from the jungle in Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands and via bush singletracks to Irvinebank in the unique Australian Outback. The finish after more than 700km and 17,000m of elevation will take them onto the breath-takingly beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
The lead group with pro-racers are competing for the race win and valuable international ranking points awarded by the endorsing body UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale/International Cycling Federation). But the majority of the field is packed with amateur mountain bikers. The Austrian Martin Wisata has called Australia home since 2003 and is a five-time finisher of the event. He is one of the many riders who come for the challenge of a lifetime.
“You get to ride with cyclists from all over the world and over the last few years the race has changed a lot”, the 38-year old, who manages his own mountain bike race business near Sydney, explains the now so versatile stage plan that includes so many different terrains. “It used to be massive 150 km days in the saddle and often riders would cross the finish after eight or ten hours, sometimes even in the dark. Nowadays you have shorter distances, but it’s still tough, because every day is different and you get to ride more bush and jungle trails, not just huge, straight Outback Highways”, Wisata says of the transformation of the “road race on dirt” to a genuine Australian mountain bike stage race. What keeps him coming back, adds Wisata, is the cameraderie that develops among the riders and the experience of camping on cattle stations, in historic mining villages and since last year even a coffee plantation at Skybury.
“Whether you’re an elite rider or an amateur rider, everyone is in for the same distance and the same conditions each day. Most riders have known this race since their childhood, following it on TV and in the news, just like me”, Wisata explains the fascination of the race. “These riders tell me they come for the adventure and to cross the finish line after nine days with a smile – it’s an incredible feeling to be a part of this very exclusive group of cyclists from all over the world who can call themselves ‘Crocodile Trophy finishers’.”
Tropical North Queensland – The home of the Crocodile Trophy
Says Cairns Mayor Cr Bob Manning OAM, “In Cairns, we are proud of our strong sporting culture. Our region has produced champions in all manner of sporting endeavours – and mountain biking is no exception. We love to cheer on our local competitors, we also revel in welcoming athletes from across the state, nation and world to our spectacular region – and this is what the Crocodile Trophy has been doing since 1994.
“I have no doubt our visiting competitors, officials and supporters will leave with wonderful memories of their time in Cairns and I am certain that locals continue to embrace this iconic event and come out to Smithfield on Saturday to see the riders in action for themselves.”
Martin Wisata’s plans for this year? “In enjoy sharing my racing experience and I’ll be racing with four team mates and I look forward to being a mentor during the race and to make sure they all do well and stay upright each day. But of course, once that start gun goes, your race mode naturally kicks in and you want to do well within your age group and compare yourself against riders around you”, Wisata concluded.
Tourism and Events Queensland is proud to support the 2015 event through its Queensland Destination Events Program and as part of the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar.
The Crocodile Trophy starts in Cairns tomorrow. For rider lists and results, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com