Crocodile combatants ready for onslaught
Over ten days and more than 1200 kilometres, across some of the most difficult terrain the wild country of Australia can offer, the combatants in the Crocodile Trophy 2008 are readying themselves for a mental and physical onslaught.
As they prepared today with a leisurely ride along the beautiful Cairns esplanade, the protagonists from Australia’s Merida Flight Centre team began to centre their combined focus on winning both the men’s and women’s titles in this, one of the most brutal and prestigious off-road cycling events anywhere in the world.
Such a feat (one team winning both Tro-phies) has never been achieved before and it is the Western Australian husband and wife combination of Tim and Jo Bennett who have set themselves the lofty goal of standing together on the final podium when the race eventually reaches glorious Cape Tribulation.
Tim Bennett, who finished on the bottom step of the men’s podium in 2007, has arrived in Cairns with a stellar support cast in the shape of Nick Both and Adrian Jackson. Jackson is the current world mountainbike orienteering champion and Both is a perennial place-getter in Australia’s biggest off-road events.
Cautious about his chances, the Merida Flight Centre team leader knows from experience not to get too carried away in a race where the elements, more often than not, stand in ultimate judgement.
“Yeah I think we’ll have a good crack at it (the General Classification), but in a race as long and as hard as this one, you’d be a fool to say that I’m going to win it,” Bennett said.
A “fool” or not, One of Bennett’s main rivals in the 2008 Crocodile Trophy is taking precisely the opposite approach.
Sydney’s Craig Gordon (Rockstar Racing) has hustled his way onto the start-line after scoring a wild-card entry. As the team name suggests, Gordon’s not one to play down his chances and the 2006 World 24 Hour solo mountainbike champion has already claimed that he’s “here to show the Euro’s how it’s done”.
“Just a bit of controversy, everyone loves a bit of controversy and I’ve done a lot of racing in Europe, so why not kick it off with a bit of controversy,” Gordon said of his lavish claim for the Crocodile Trophy title.
Gordon’s assault on the Crocodile Trophy has already suffered a serious setback, after a crash in training left him with a torn tendon in his thumb. He will race with a guard and faces a painful ten days ahead on the corrugated roads of Cape York.
If any nation has the final say in the men’s contest at the Crocodile Trophy it’s likely to be the Czechs.
Two-time second place-getter Ondrej Fojtik has honoured his promise to “return to win this great race” and has brought with him a truly world-class line-up with his team from VIG+ racing.
In a country where the Crocodile Trophy has developed legendary status, it is no surprise to see the Czech Republic’s best making the journey down under. The VIG team boasts a wealth of UCI Marathon World Cup experience Fojtik has already earned a justifiable place on the outback classic’s honour roll, winning stages in both his 2004 and 2007 appear-ances.
A hard fought stage win by Trunschka - his second in three days, ably supported by overall race leader Fojtik, solidified the winning position for the Czechs at the 2008 Crocodile Trophy in Australia’s remote Tropical North.
Czech cyclist Ondrej Fojtik is one step closer to achieving his dream of winning the Crocodile Trophy after snatching the leaders jersey from the shoulders of team-mate Tomas Trunschka.
Czech team VIG+ racing dominated today’s opening stage of the 2008 Crocodile Trophy, claiming all three men’s podium places, in what proved to be a thoroughly dominant per-formance and an ominous sign for rivals.