JUNIOR TOUR OF WALES PREVIEW
The RIS Junior Tour of Wales Cycle Race takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend (August 25-27), and comprises five stages of fast and furious road racing over just three days. The race is now in it's 27th year.
The event is open to any rider aged between 16 and 18, and female riders of any age. This year the race has 100 riders keen to battle it out to win this prestigious race.
The race travels through the Counties of Gwent, Dyfed and Powys - through the spectacular scenery of the Brecon Beacons. Traditionally the race starts with a prologue time trial, with three road race stages and a circuit race. The final stage takes in the breathtaking climb of Tumble Mountain – a five mile climb of a 10 per cent gradient.
Previous races have attracted riders from Holland, France, Eire and America, with past winners going on to ride for top Continental Teams and win the British Road Race. Geraint Thomas, David Millar, Charly Wegelius, Mark Cavendish and Jeremy Hunt have all ridden the Junior Tour of Wales.
Messages of support from the quartet of British riders in the Tour de France who have all featured in the Junior Tour of Wales at some time have arrived at the event's HQ. David Millar, Charly Wegelius, Mark Cavendish and the current number one Welsh Sportsman - Geraint Thomas - all spoke glowingly of the event's importance in launching their professional careers and of the 'affection' they hold for its challenging terrain. Here's what they said:
David Millar, Saunier Duval pro and British Road Race National Champion
"The Junior Tour of Wales... that was a good race, one of the first I rode in this country. I'm glad it is still going so well. It really did test me to my limit, I can still remember that last hill, even after all the Tours I've done on the continent.
"Whoever finishes well up in that race has the ability to go forward with their career. The organisation too... it was so well run. I wish the RIS Junior Tour of Wales massive success with this year's race."
Geraint Thomas, Barloworld pro
"It's pretty cool because I've raced the Junior Tour of Wales and remember the mountain top finishes in the Brecon Beacons. And now I've just finished the Tour de France and managed to get through stages that finished at summit of mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees.
"I'm really proud to have taken part in both these challenging races. I've no doubt that the Junior Tour of Wales will continue to help young riders develop their racing careers. It was certainly a great stepping stone for me.
"I wish the riders and the race all the success now and in the future."
Charly Wegelius, Liquigas pro
"The Tour of Wales, along with the Tour of Ireland, is one of the only chances young riders in the UK get to experience a stage race. This is a great experience for young riders and gives them a real taste of what is to come.
"The Tour of Wales was one of the first races I won as a Junior and the climb of the Tumble remains a fantastic memory for me. I wish all the riders the best of luck, and most of all, that everyone can have fun!!
Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile pro
"The Junior Tour of Wales is one of the very few opportunities for juniors to experience riding a stage race. It's a tough race, especially with some of those mountain top finishes so it's like the big tours. I really enjoyed riding the Junior Tour of Wales; it was a great experience that definitely played a part in launching my professional racing career. Have a great weekends racing!"
The race benefits this year from the full technical support of the Wales National Escort Group whose motorcycles will escort the 100 riders and motorised convoy throughout the three days of action. They were also involved during the Tor de France's memorable London opening and are another element of the RIS Junior Tour which is of total top-class.
After a very domestic edition last year - with arguably the highest overall standard of its entire 27 year history - the Junior Tour now has a more international aspect this time around with squads from Scotland, Ulster, Isle of Man, Holland and England all lined up against the Welsh.
Click here to see the complete start list for the Junior Tour of Wales
JUNIOR TOUR OF WALES: STAGES
Saturday, August 25. 10.30am
Time Trial. 6 miles
Start: Blaenavon Road. 300m from roundabout
Course: Brynmawr-Blaenavon Road-Tumble @ 1 minute Intervals.
Saturday, August 25. 2.45pm
Road Race. 50 miles
Finish: 1km after summit at 5.15pm.
Sunday, August 26. 10.30am
Circuit Race. 24 miles.
Start/Finish: Bryn Bach Park.
Sunday, August 26. 3.30pm
Road Race. 45 miles.
Course: Bryn Bach Park, A465 direction of Merthyr-A470 direction Cardiff-Nelson-Fochriw-Merthyr Common-A465-Cwm Bargoed (x2 circuits)
Finish: Prince of Wales Inn, Princetown, Tredegar.
Monday, August 27. 10.30am
Road Race. 62 miles
Course: Nantyglo–A465W–Dowlais–Hirwaun–Storey Arms–Brecon–A40–Abergavenny–Llanfoist
Finish: Tumble (Keepers) Mountain, Blaenavon approx 1.15pm