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Crocodile Trophy - NE
Australia, October 18-30, 2005
By John Flynn
He may be the reigning Crocodile Trophy champion but Australian Adam Hansen will go into the 13-day mountain bike stage race - considered one of the world's hardest MTB races - with Aussie underdog status, when the 2005 event gets underway in Townsville, North Queensland today.
Hansen will once again lead the will lead the Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort team. Attending yesterdays pre-race briefing, he was matter of fact about his intentions in 2005, despite the fact he will be up against UCI World Cup Marathon Cross Country Champion, Mauro Bettin of Italy, who will head the rival Felt-Shimano Dream Team.
I didnt come here to get second, Hansen told Cyclingnews. Im aiming to win it, but it will be harder than last year.
The 24 year old Australian, who had what he described as a terrible year racing in Europe with the Austrian based Elk Haus road team in 2005, is desperate to finish the year on a positive note. To help the cause, Hansen has brought with him two team-mates from Austria, including the well credentialed Stefan Rucker, who alongside Australian Joe McDonnell will be key supports.
Firing the first shots in what is sure to be a psychological war spanning the duration of the race, Hansen claimed the rival Felt-Shimano Dream Team lacked the edge of their 2004 lineup, which was headed by the crazy man Italys Alberto Elli.
I rather race these guys than Alberto, Hansen affirmed. I think it would be easier in a sense because Ellis an amazing rider. I think theyre physically weaker than Elli but theyre better mountain bikers.
Bettin himself flew in to Australia on Sunday evening, fresh - if that's the word - from from claiming third place in the final round of the Marathon World Cup Series in France and chose to take a well earned rest before embarking on a light training ride Monday afternoon.
The rider who will start the Crocodile Trophy as team leader of the Felt-Shimano Dream Team has strong support to draw upon including Germanys Kai Hundertmark and Jens Zemke, both of whom are seasoned veterans of elite stage racing. But significant doubts still hang over Bettins capacity to rapidly acclimatize in the sometimes searing heat of Australias North.
I will stay with the group maybe the first three stages, Bettin revealed of his immediate race plan. But how long that plan lasts will depend upon the form of Bettins main rivals. In particular Adam Hansen.
I think Hansen is the rider to win after last year, Bettin said of his fellow protagonist.
Nevertheless, Weak is perhaps not a description one would readily ascribe to the team supporting Bettin. Two of those riders, former Telekom rider turned ironman triathlete Kai Hundertmark and four time German hill climb champion Jens Zemke, spent their pre-race weekend getting to know the terrain around Cairns.
Perhaps I too am crazy, Hundertmark admitted as he rolled out with a 20 strong bunch of Crocodile Trophy protagonists on a morning familiarization ride. It might have only been a short two hour excursion on the mountain bike, but several cyclists in the group were already experiencing difficulty dealing with the humid, 34 degree conditions of tropical Australia.
I have wanted to do this race for quite some years, the former Telekom rider said. This year I have been able to fit it in with my schedule and I love coming to Australia, having raced in the Tour Down Under.
The familiarization ride was packed with treats for Hundertmark and his German team-mate Zemke, who along with sampling the famous single tracks of the Cairns region, were able to get on the juice literally, enjoying the delights of liquid sucrose in the local sugar cane fields.
Its not so easy to come after thirty hours travelling, now we are relaxed and we have a lot of fun in the next thirteen days, a rejuvenated Zemke said following the morning social ride. For me its not so easy especially the technical part. I mean, I rode for many years on the road but not in the cross-country.
Unlike in previous years, the thirteen stages of the Crocodile Trophy of 2005 are expected to include more pure mountain biking. There are also significantly more hills, which should suit Zemke, a former 4 times winner of his national hill climb title.
Forty-one riders will tackle this year's Crocodile Trophy, which covers 1400 kilometres between Townsville and Port Douglas, via the rugged roads of Australias remote outback. The field includes individuals and teams from eleven countries including Austria, Germany, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and The United States.
The event begins with a 30 kilometre prologue on the foreshore at Rowes Bay in the tropical city of Townsville. Its a mere tempter for what is to come, as the race heads firstly into the rainforest covered mountains of tropical Queensland, then on into the dusty, dry outback.
Over the next two weeks the Crocodile Trophy will trace its way north, into the savannah lands of lower Cape York, via Mount Mulgrave and the legendary Quinkan country of Laura, before returning to Australias tropical north coast at Cooktown.
The penultimate stage will take cyclists through the magnificent Daintree rainforest, before the race finishes on Four Mile Beach in the idyllic haven of Port Douglas.
1 Adam Hansen (Aus) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 1 2 Joe McDonnell (Aus) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 2 3 Struan Lomont (Aus) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 2 4 Tim Northy (Aus) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 2 5 Mauro Bettin (Ita) Dream Team 1 6 Matthias Buxhofer (Aut) VAV-Versicherung R. u. R. Völkl 7 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Dream Team 1 8 Christophe Stevens (Bel) 9 Sibl Radoslav (Cze) Favorit Brno - Bikezone 10 Stefan Rucker (Aut) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 1 11 Johannes Reiser (Aut) Cairns Coconut Caravan Simplon 1 12 Markus Eibegger (Aut) Team Rapso 15 Jens Zemke (Ger) Dream Team 1 16 Lars Erik Johnson (USA) Dream Team 2 17 David Wood (Aus) Dream Team 2 20 Cristophe Desimpelaere (Bel) Team ACM 21 Astrid Boehm (Den) Team ACM 21 Astrid Boehm (Den) Team ACM 22 Mikkel Brinch Norgaard (Den) Team ACM 23 Ejnar Fausing (Den) Team ACM 2 25 Harry Ensink (Ned) GTI team 26 Han Vaalt (Ned) GTI team 27 Guido Van Olffen (Ned) GTI team 31 Rudi Donckers (Bel) Belgium Bikers Marathons 1 32 Eric Paquay (Bel) Belgium Bikers Marathons 1 33 Bart Machiels (Bel) Belgium Bikers Marathons 2 35 Giancarlo Schönberg (Ita) Pedale Tarvisiano 36 Macor Loris (Ita) Pedale Tarvisiano 37 Salvatore P. Albano (Ita) Team Bike Tarvisio 2005 38 Peter Stenico (Aut) Peto 39 Jos Kerkhofs (Bel) Belgium Bikers Marathons 1 40 Karl Frank (Aut) SV Panaceo Post 41 Johannes Huber (Ger) Team Huber 42 Günter Rafeiner (Aut) Sport Nora 43 Robert Vlug (Ned) team.hollandonline.nl 44 Kim Proctor (Aus) 45 Knud Juul-Jensen (Irl) Team ACM 2 46 Heinz Zörweg (Aut) ARBÖ Wienstrom Lamster Fadewa 47 Claude Dabaliz (NZl) 48 Paul West (GBr) Endura/Shred 49 Beat Lustenberger (Swi) Trek-VC Züri 2 50 Reinhard Hörmann (Aut) VAV-Versicherung R. u. R. Völkl
Men 2004 Adam Hansen (Aus) Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort 2003 Roland Stauder (Ita) Red Bull Women 2004 Anita Waiß (Aut) skinfit TEAM AUSTRIA 2003 Rosi King (Aus)