LAST year’s McDonalds Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic winner and record- holder Mark Jamieson will ride for local Inverell wildcard team, the Australian Hotel Inverell, in this year’s event.
The 2012 Grafton to Inverell on Saturday week will attract some of the best riders in Australia as well as some international riders, race media liaison Chris Thompson said.
He said the race and new wildcard teams had already received great support from local Inverell businesses.
“Especially their major sponsor, the Aussie Hotel,” Thompson said.
“The Aussie Hotel Inverell team enters the race with the main objective to win the teams classification.”
Aussie Hotel team captain Brendan Jones believes their team of Jamieson, Michael Troy, Geoff Straub and himself are a strong foursome that will put together a solid race as a team.
“For a local team to have the defending champion and current record holder on board is very exciting and has motivated the rest of the team to do our best to get him up for a back-to-back win,” Jones said.
Aussie Hotel publican Damien Smith said he and his father, Garry Smith, had been sponsoring the race for a number of years.
“This is the first time we’ve sponsored a team though,” Damien said.
The Aussie Hotel has been noted for its sports support over many years and currently sponsors the Inverell Highlanders rugby union and Inverell Saints AFL clubs.
It did have a cricket club (Aussies) playing out of the hotel for many years but that team folded recently.
“Staggy Creek now play out of here,” Smith said of the cricket club.
“But we haven’t done a great deal with the cycle race over the years.
“We’ve been involved a little bit and always had people like Jack Griffin staying here.
“But when Brendan approached me we thought we’d give him a go.
“He plays a bit of music here too.
“It’s good to be able to support someone local.”
The Aussie Hotel Inverell team will face very tough opposition from the leading Subaru National Road Series teams who have been battling all year for the prestigious titles.
As the final race of the series, this year’s Grafton to Inverell is almost guaranteed to feature exciting racing on a course that suits the real strongmen of the sport.
The race will depart Grafton at 8am, October 27 and follow the Gwydir Highway passing through Glen Innes before finishing to a friendly Inverell welcome at around 2pm.
The Gwydir Highway between Tindals Road, 12km west of Grafton, and Bald Knob Road, 15km east of Glen Innes, will be closed to traffic as the race proceeds to Inverell.
The highway at Jackadgery is expected to re-open at 10.30am, with Bald Knob Road expected to re-open at 2pm.