Pettina credited his cross-country race background for his win against one of the most high-profile elite men’s line-up in the history of the Crocodile Trophy.
“Today was a great start to the race, I love racing these kinds of trails, they suit my cross-country background well”, the Italian said.
He completed the stage, which included five laps of a 6.5 km circuit at the Smithfield MTB Park just outside of Cairns, in a time of 1hr 30min 42.98sec.
In the two-women elite field, North Queenslander Sarah White took full home advantage to hold an almost six-minute lead on German Regina Genser.
“I tried to stay calm today and had a strong race”, said the 35-year-old.
She finished just 23 minutes behind the men’s winner in a time of 1hr 53min 39.92sec.
The second stage will take the riders to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.