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  • Race Recap: The 2017 Crocodile Trophy

    September 26, 2017

    By Andrew L’Esperance – Forward Racing

    It feels like the last week or so has been a blur. Rightly so, with 8 days of racing, 660 kilometers, 4 different campsites, rain forest, straight dirt roads, flowy double track… yeah, that’s enough to make your head spin. This was the Crocodile Trophy and it was our (Haley and I) first experience with an international mountain bike stage race.

    Back in February we were coming off a heavy training block and excited by training volume that we successfully handled. This motivated a search for a new challenge outside the comfort zone of the hour-thirty cross country discipline of mountain biking that is our primary focus. Our search produced the Crocodile Trophy which would be starting in the same part of Australia a short week after MTB World Championships. It would be a perfect way to finish off the season with a fun adventure and capitalize on the form brought to our most important race of the season.

    To be honest we didn’t really give the race too much thought until the days leading up to stage 1. Of course, we made sure we prepared properly with the right equipment, nutrition and additional gear that isn’t part of our usual race kit, but that was the extent of it. We were focused on World Champs and there was no room for much else. After that race was over, though, the Crocodile Trophy was heavier on our minds and we started to question what we had gotten ourselves into. We laughed at the challenge ahead quite a few times to play it off, I guess this was our coping strategy. In the end, we approached it the same way we do all our races; with an open mind, a positive attitude and an excitement to see what will happen.

     

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    Long days on the bike were fueled by sugar and maintained by lots of liquids and electrolytes. Each stage had a food and water station every 30 kilometers. With temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius or more, hydration was very important.

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    Both Haley and I rode the Norco Revolver FS. The only addition to our normal XC setup was a saddle bag and a little more pressure in the tires and suspension to better handle the terrain.

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    This young Belgian fan (her father was competing in the race) was excited when Haley gave her one of her leader’s jerseys.

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    Like I said, hydration and electrolytes were important. This photo was taken after stage 5 which was a hot 125 km day.

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    After a night of intense illness, Stage 7 was almost the end of Haley. With a little support and encouragement, she got through the day and maintained a top 15 in the GC. Photo by Igor Schifris

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    The finish on 4 Mile Beach in Port Douglas is the most spectacular finish to a mountain bike race anywhere. An added bonus was a dip in the ocean to cool off while we let the fact that we just finished 8 stages of mountain bike racing sink in.

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    Final podium with all the jersey winners. Haley Smith is the 2017 Elite Women Crocodile Trophy Champion!

    2017 Crocodile Trophy

    Overall Elite Men’s Podium with Lespy finishing 2nd to compatriot Leandre Bouchard.

     

    Here is an outline of our results:

    Haley Smith – Norco Factory Team

    1st Elite Female, 14th Overall GC (General Classification)

    Andrew L’Esperance – Forward Racing-Norco

    4 Stage Wins, 2nd Elite Male GC, 2nd Overall GC

     

    If you’re interested in reading more about the 2017 Crocodile Trophy, you can find additional reports here: Cyclist Magazine,  Marathon MTB.