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11th Crocodile Trophy - October 18-30, 2005
Felt Dream Team diary
Stage 1 - October 18: Townsville - Townsville, 25 km
The Felt Dream Team rides again!
The 2005 Crocodile Trophy, arguably the world's most grueling mountain bike race, rolled out of Townsville, North Queensland October 18. The 53 competitors representing 12 countries began the arduous race through Australia's outback as the sun threatens another 40-degree day. For most of the competitors this will come as a reality check as they come from the tame European or Scandinavian climates, with no real preparation for the raw Australian desert.
The Felt Dream Team has returned for the fourth year boasting a veteran squad of hard-core mountain bike professionals. Team leader, Mauro Bettin, recently crowned World Cup Marathon Mountain Bike Champion, is looking to better his results from the 2003 Crocodile Trophy, where he won six stages, the sprint leader's competition as well as an amazing second overall. It's a tall order for the Italian from Sacile, but one he's confident of realizing.
Also riding for the Dream Team we have the German duo of ex-professional road cyclists, Kai Hundertmarck (Hunni) and Jens Zemke (Jenza) the two have arrived fighting fit and with a good sense of humour. Kai actually was a little nervous and telephoned to Jens, "Hey Jens, want to go to Australia with me on an adventure race? It'll be fun. I am using it for training for my next triathlon in Perth. It's called the Crocodile Trophy." And that was all she wrote. Zemke packed his bags, organized his bike, as he is the directeur sportif of the women's Equipe Nuernberger, and he was off to Australia.
Hundertmarck, who is currently racing triathlon and placed 15 in his first Hawaii Ironman as well as a 13-year road-racing career, like is German colleague will have a steep learning curve in this event.
Then there is Lars - Eric Johnson, the returning American. The big US boy from Ketchum, Idaho, commonly known as Large, will contest his second Croc Trophy. This year he is prepared for the suffering, he packed his chomois cream cocktail of slippery stuff, topical pain killers, antibacterial stuff. But the ultimate in self protection is the suspension seat post which he also brought for David Wood our local Cairns man.
David Wood is a saint by any other name. He has been warehousing equipment, building bikes, shopping, researching and basically providing the connective tissue of the Dream Team. And the 27-year-old environmental engineer can ride a bike too! Woods seems really too good to be true.
Now to the first stage. Let's open the account with, "Why would you race 25 km through salt water and sand before a 1,500 km lap through the outback?" This was the question on the minds of the Dream Team who were picking grit out of their Shimano XTR components and wondering "What the hey?"
Needless to say The 2005 Crocodile Trophy began as all those who came before, with some confusion, ample anxiety and a lot of adventure to come
Christi Valentine - Anderson - Eurosport Commentator, photographer, diarist
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Christi Valentine-Anderson