100 of the best junior racing cyclists in the world will be heading to Carmarthenshire over the August Bank Holiday, as the SD Sealants Junior Tour of Wales heads to the county for the first time in its near 40 year history.
The race has served as the springboard for the careers of countless Grand Tour riders – with Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas finishing 2nd on Junior Tour 2004, and Carmarthen’s Scott Davies winning the 2013 edition before making his big race debut at the Giro d’Italia this year.
Sunday 25th August sees the riders – including entrants from as far afield as Israel and New Zealand, tackle 20 laps of the Pembrey National Closed Road Circuit from 11am. The race then restarts at 3pm, leaving the Country Park and skirting Carmarthen before four laps of a fast circuit round the Towy Valley and a finish in the village of Nantgaredig.
Event Organiser Richard Hopkins said “The riders may only be 16-18 years old, but they get stronger every year, so we are always looking for longer, more challenging stages to test them right to their limits. We’re delighted to be able to visit Carmarthenshire for the first time. It has so many beautiful roads and great provision for cycling, not least the superb new closed circuit at Pembrey.
The circuit will test the riders’ bike handling skills and recovery to the max, while the afternoon stage will see an early chance for the climbers past the climb at Llandyfaelog before the bigger, stronger guys come to the fore on the Towy Valley circuit. And the sprint into the finish at Nantgaredig is going to be absolutely flat out!”
Carmarthenshire Council Head of Leisure Ian Jones said: “This event is another example of Carmarthenshire’s aspiration to become the Cycling Hub of Wales, focussing on the next generation of riders who aspire to emulate local hero Geraint Thomas in becoming a future Olympian and Tour De France Winner. “
Team Dimension Data professional cyclist Scott Davies adds: “It’s great that this year’s Junior Tour will include two stages in Carmarthenshire. It’s a fantastic place for cycling: Quiet roads, an abundance of climbs and spectacular scenery on a clear day.
The route for stage four features some of my home roads that I train on every day. I’m sure it’ll make for some great racing, and the best of luck to all the riders competing in this year’s race”
The SD Sealants Junior Tour of Wales gets underway with an individual time trial from Brynmawr on during the evening of Friday 23rd August before a stage from Abergavenny via Brecon to the Rhigos Mountain on Saturday 24th. After the Carmarthenshire section on Sunday 25th it concludes with a race from Abergavenny to Chepstow and to the summit of the Tumble Mountain, on Monday 26th.
A look at the stages
Stage 1: Friday 23rd August: A testing 8km/ 5 mile individual time trial from Brynmawr to the summit of the Tumble Mountain south of Abergavenny.
Stage 2: Saturday 24th August: 110km/59 mile road race from Abergavenny, through Brecon and the Neath Valley, to the summit of the Rhigos Mountain above Hirwaun. With three mid-stage climbs and four sprints before the riders make their way to the Rhigos, the stage is made for attacks, and only those with real stamina will have what it takes to contest the finish.
Stage 3: Sunday 25th August 11am: A 20 lap, 35km/22 mile race on the new Pembrey National Closed Road Circuit. With the circuit’s combination of tight corners and a short but testing climb followed by a fast descent, the best natural bike handlers and circuit race specialists will have an advantage here.
Stage 4: Sunday 25th August 3pm: 99km/62 mile road race from Pembrey to Carmarthen, and round a circuit in the Towy Valley, finishing in the centre of Nantgaredig. Flatter than the other road stages, it is deliberately designed for the sprinters to come to the fore and should be very, very fast.
Stage 5: Monday 26th August: 95km/56 mile rolling road stage from Abergavenny down to Chepstow, Tintern, Mitcheltroy and back up for the final showdown on the Tumble Mountain. Another varied, flowing stage, with sprints, climbs, and lightning fast, tricky descents before the final, five kilometre mountain climb will settle the whole race.
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