The race organisers of the Crocodile Trophy confirmed a new major sponsor for the race with the "Middle East Peace Tour" coming on board as its principal patron and partner event. The high-profile line-up of riders at the 2017 edition of the oldest and most legendary mountain bike stage race have been confirmed to include the French National Marathon Champion Miguel Martinez as well as four-time Tour de France racer Erik Dekker from The Netherlands. Australia will be represented by a strong field of riders headed up by 2014 Elite Women’s winner Imogen Smith.
The “MEPT - Crocodile Trophy 2017” is only a month away - Australia's and the world's oldest and most legendary mountain bike stage race will start on 16 September in Cairns and take it's international field of riders through the magnificent Tropical North Queensland region to Port Douglas, where the event will finish on Four Mile Beach eight days later on 23 September.
For the 2017 edition, the organisers of the “Croc” have just announced The Middle East Peace Tour (MEPT) as its principal sponsor and events partner. The MEPT is the first cross-border sporting event for peace in the world. Cyclists from all around the world will be permitted to participate in its inaugural race in March 2018 – from amateur and hobby cyclists to professionals – all are welcome to support the idea of peace in sport, says Gerhard Schönbacher.
Schönbacher, a former professional road cyclist and the Founder of both events, is proud that his two races complement each other so well, "With the MEPT - Crocodile Trophy the oldest and most legendary mountain bike stage race is supported by the world´s very first bike race for peace. Just as I´ve always wanted to discover and explore the most beautiful regions of Australia on the bike with my Crocodile Trophy racers, I´ve had a life-long dream to create a cycling event promoting peace with the participation of athletes from all countries and entities in the Middle East area."
The MEPT starts on the March 9th in Amman with a circuit race in the City Centre and finishes in Jerusalem March 15th. Just like the stage plan of the Crocodile Trophy, Schönbacher added, the seven stages of the MEPT were very versatile and passed through the spectacular scenery and unique sites that are so characteristic of this region.
High-profile field of riders lining up in Cairns
Over the past 23 years the MEPT - Crocodile Trophy has attained a real legendary status internationally and locally in Australia – it attracts a wide variety of cyclists ranging from amateur and hobby riders to former professional and current elite racers.
This year the Dutch three-time Tour de France stage winner Erik Dekker will be at the start line alongside the French National Marathon Champion Miguel Martinez.
Imogen Smith heads up the large Australian contingent at the Crocodile Trophy this year. The 2014 Elite women’s winner will return to Cairns after a major injury on the road earlier this year. The adventure racer Joanne Koy is stepping up from amateur into the Elite category in the Crocodile Trophy this year with respectable results on the National Marathon racing scene this year.
In the men’s the Australian riders include many multiple Crocodile Trophy finishers and category winners such as Garry James from Canberra and the local racing team around 5-time finisher Brendon Skerke. The Austro-Australian Martin Wisata from the NSW Central Coast will be returning for his eighth turn at the Croc, increasing his lead as the world-wide record holder of most events finished.
Photos: Regina Stanger
Imogen Smith at the 2014 Crocodile Trophy.
Annemiek van Vleuten, events ambassador for the MEPT at the 2017 media launch in the Middle East.