Williamson turns hand to organising

James Williamson
James Williamson
Alexandra cyclist James Williamson has moved from competitor to organiser.

The 30-year-old teamed up with Scott Lyttle to win the 2017 Pioneer mountain bike race from Christchurch to Queenstown.

But last year he got involved in helping re-route the popular event and has taken on the role of course manager this year.

He will be too busy to ride in the race this year but he has certainly put all the event's trails to the test.

"With the major change in the format in 2018 they were looking for some local input to trial the course and the trails," Williamson said.

"So I did a little bit of that ... and this year the opportunity come up to step up into a more formal role.

"I wasn't planning on racing it this time around anyway, so it has worked out well."

The 2019 Pioneer is a six-day mountain bike stage race set to take riders on a 441km journey through the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago region.

It gets under way in the first week of December. The event has changed from a Christchurch to Queenstown stage race to an out-and-back course in which riders start and end their journey in Queenstown.

Williamson brings his considerable experience to the event. He lives in Alexandra where he owns a cycle business and he also does a lot of coaching.

"My brief was to lift an already stunning event to new levels, combining the challenge of one of the world's toughest mountain bike stage races with the incredible trails and vistas provided throughout the Central Otago region.

"This is my backyard, so I have taken special pride in helping to deliver a course that will ensure a memorable week for all."

The 2019 course includes a large amount of custom-built mountain bike single track that will challenge the riders.

The course also takes competitors into the back country where riders will test their endurance.

In one of the highlights, riders will crest Mt Difficulty.

Each stage is between 69-112km and there is plenty of arduous climbing.

That said, it is not an advanced event but rather a "middle-of-the-range" race which will appeal to a wider group of riders.

Williamson expects the event will attract a field of 800-plus riders.

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