Rank­ine takes on Croc

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - by ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

MOSS­MAN cy­clist Steve Rank­ine will bat­tle it out this Satur­day along with the tough­est ath­letes in the most ad­ven­tur­ous moun­tain bike stage race in the world, the Croc­o­dile Tro­phy.

Strength, en­durance and pain thresh­olds will be tested in the eight day and 930km race, start­ing from Smith­field, go­ing into Cairns, on to Lake Ti­na­roo, Ather­ton, Irvinebank, Mt Mul­li­gan, Mait­land Downs, May­town, Laura and fin­ish­ing in Cook­town.

Af­ter com­pet­ing in the race back in 2009, Rank­ine said this year he is more pre­pared and had been train­ing hard with his Cairns­based team - the trio are aim­ing to all fin­ish in the top 10.

“I’m a glut­ton for pu­n­ish­ment, I’ve al­ways been into bike rid­ing and back in 2009 I was asked to do it with a team in the last hour and man­aged to get into the top 10 over­all with very lit­tle train­ing and or­gan­i­sa­tion on my part,” he said.

“Af­ter that ef­fort I thought if I was able to give my­self three months of de­cent train­ing and was at least 20 to 40 per cent fit­ter, I’d place bet­ter.”

The race is in nine stages - the long­est stage is the last leg of 140km to Cook­town, but with the rough­est ter­rain Rank­ine said each day could take five hours for elite ath­letes and all day for the slower riders.

“It’s about 300km less than the pre­vi­ous year but the time spent on the bike will be very sim­i­lar, a sin­gle track cy­cle rid­ing is more in­tense at a lower speed,” he said.

“And this one you’re dodg­ing be­tween trees and cat­tle trails, it’s go­ing to be tough this year and hot and it’s some­thing I quite en­joy com­pared to other riders.

“I’ve worked up in that area so this should be a test and I’ve raced in Europe, trained in Europe and they never get the sort of races like the heat we do here.”

And this year, with more prepa­ra­tion Rank­ine has been fol­low­ing an in­tense train­ing regime of run­ning and cy­cling, lost weight and is ready for the gru­elling chal­lenge one of his team­mates de­scribed as the same as giv­ing birth.

“I don’t know per­son­ally but I’d say it’s a bit like child­birth, I used to be a triath­lete and com­peted at an elite level and I’d take on the half iron man and hated it, the whole way through I thought ’ Why did I do this’,” he said.

“But then you fin­ish it and go, ’ That re­ally hurt, but I’m go­ing to have an­other crack at that’.”

The pub­lic are wel­come to par­tic­i­pate and race in the first two stages - five laps of Cairns to Smith­field and Cairns to Lake Ti­na­roo or just cheer on the Rank­ine and his team­mates Bren­don Sk­erke and Paul Mash­ford bat­tling it out for top hon­ours.

“Fin­gers crossed, we have a re­ally good chance to win, it’s one of those races where you have to look out for large rocks, drop- offs, sticks, roots and stuff that can dam­age your bike, you can’t be pre­pared and any­thing can hap­pen,” he said.

“If we all ride well un­scathed and ev­ery­one stays on their bike, we will do well in the team clas­si­fi­ca­tion and from an in­di­vid­ual point of view I think we got a re­ally good chance of get­ting one our riders in the top five, if not all of us in the top 10.”

ON A MIS­SION: Steve Rank­ine (cen­tre) with team­mates Paul Mash­ford and Bren­don Sk­erke

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