ON TRACK: Mayor Greg Williamson and Mad Mountain Bike Club president Peter Lister at Rowallan Park before it hosts the Mackay Mountain Bike Cross Country Classic this weekend.
ON TRACK: Mayor Greg Williamson and Mad Mountain Bike Club president Peter Lister at Rowallan Park before it hosts the Mackay Mountain Bike Cross Country Classic this weekend. Aidan Cureton

Big points on offer at Mackay mountain bike championship

WHEN Mackay secured the rights to host one of the biggest mountain biking events in the country in the past 14 years, former Australian champion Peter Lister did not hide his emotions.

International mountain bike racing comes to Mackay from June 28 to 30 with the 2019 MAD MTB Field Engineers Mackay Cup at Rowallan Park.

Lister, the Mad Mountain Bike Club president, shared the moment that brought him to tears when Mackay hosted the State Championships in 2017. He hoped the support of this event would rival that.

"I remember . . . just seeing lines of two to three people deep clanging bells," he said.

"There was even a guy with a chainsaw without the chain on it, just revving the engine and cheering hard.

"In the end I teared up. I've raced all over Australia, but it is amazing racing to that kind of support. On your home track with home crowed cheering on is (amazing)."

Lister will race with the elites this weekend but said he would dash to the track side after his events to cheer on every Mackay competitor.

"I want to be out there as our club president to be cheering like that for even our slowest riders," he said.

"We'll celebrate with the (juniors) as well as our elite and top riders."

The event goes hand in hand with the MTBA National Cup. It provides an opportunity for beginner riders to be part of a national competition alongside professionals. As a multiple national mountain bike champion, Lister was thrilled to bring the inclusive event to his stomping ground.

"This is the first time in 14 years Australia has hosted a level 2 UCI race," Lister said.

"Apart from national champs and Oceania this is the biggest thing in that time for Mountain Biking Australia for points. That's why we have so many people coming from all over the place to secure their points before going back over to Europe to race."

Lister has been racing around Australia for the past 10 years. He said with ongoing upgrades to Rowallan park and the potential Pioneer Valley track development, Mackay could have some of the best MTB tracks in the country.

More importantly Lister said the chance for rookies to mix with elite competitors would only inspire Mackay's young force.

"We take this product and can take our riders away all over the world from here. They're inspired to do well after events like this," he said.

"When we ran the state trials here, twice our riders went 'hey I like this' and started thinking they could make the podium, make national champion with a bit of training. We have the facilities here, we have the backing here and support, so why not."

The event, which is classed as a C2 and UCI junior world series cross-country event, is the second of its kind in Australia this year.

Australia's leading juniors will be searching for vital UCI ranking points ahead of the UCI MTB World Championships held in Mont Saint Anne, Canada from August 28 to September 1.

Already Mackay has proved to have a knack for the sport.

"The stats will show how many national championships and national series winners we have from Mackay," Lister said.

"We wouldn't be able to do well in the rest of Australia if it wasn't for the park we have here. Now it's just gone up to a whole new level."

The event is expected to attract 500 visitors from across Australia and internationally, as well as a massive local contingent.



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