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Thomas: ‘Junior Tour of Wales is the biggest junior race on the domestic calendar'
Photo: Team Sky's Thomas rode the Junior Tour of Wales twice
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas has hailed the Junior Tour of Wales as the ‘biggest junior race on the domestic calendar' ahead of the August Bank Holiday event.
The Junior Tour has proved in the past to be the breeding ground of top British cyclists with Thomas riding the race twice during his career as a junior placing second overall.
The 31st edition will field 100 of the best junior riders in the country and beyond with two teams from France including the current French National Junior Champion Loic Jamet but Thomas is hopeful a Welsh rider can take the crown soon.
"The Junior Tour of Wales is for me the biggest junior race on the domestic calendar. I really enjoy racing on home roads! It has terrain to test every type of rider over the 5 stages making for some great racing. I always wanted to win it but could only manage 2nd. Hopefully we can have a Welsh winner very soon," Thomas said.
This year promises to be the toughest ever with two steep mountain top finishes giving a sting in the tail of stages 2 and 5 and a flat stage for the sprinters on Sunday afternoon. The race takes place over the August Bank Holiday 27th - 29th August and is based at Nantyglo Leisure Centre in Blaenau Gwent.
Sponsors R.I.S. Insulation will again be providing additional prizes for the overall winner of the British Junior Road Race Series and the best Welsh finisher.
Managing Director Mark Hawkins said: "I am delighted to be supporting the Junior Tour of Wales again this year. It is a very prestigious race that promotes the sport and the local area. It gives Welsh riders the opportunity to compete against some of the best junior riders in the country and Europe. "
Stage 1 at 10.30am on Saturday 28th starts from Brynmawr near the HQ at Nantyglo Leisure Centre and is the usual 10km Time Trial over hilly terrain to the back of the Tumble climb.
The 100 riders will assemble at Brynmawr Market Square in the afternoon and roll out on Stage 2 when the Mayor, Councillor Michael J. Bartlett, drops the flag at 3.00pm. The event heads down the Heads Of the Valleys road to Gilwern nd the start proper along the Usk Valley via Crickhowell and Llangynidr onto Talybont to join the A470 at Brecon to climb to the first prime of the Stage.
A fast eight miles takes the riders through Bronllys to turn right at 3 Cocks and onto the next sprint at Talgarth and takes the peleton through Llangorse village alongside the lovely lake to turn right in Bwlch. Left a further mile down the A40 brings the race back to Talybont and retrace the earlier tracks to climb Llangynidr mountain, a three mile climb with a last vicious ascent to its highest point and the finish.
Bryn Bach Park circuit is the scene of stage 3, starting at 10.00am on Sunday, a closed road lap of 3km which after 30 minutes plus 3 laps will find riders struggling up the 0 to 30 metre per lap climb.
Stage 4 sees the riders leaving the race Headquarters at Nantyglo Leisure Centre at 3.00pm that afternoon on a 47 mile loop down the A465 and A40 to Raglan and Monmouth to finish on a flat course near Abergavenny giving the sprinters a chance to showcase their talents.
Stage 5 starts at Nantyglo Leisure Centre at 10.30am on Monday and runs along the A465 to Hirwaun before turning over the Brecon Beacons to Storey Arms and down to Brecon and on to Abergavenny. A 62-mile jaunt which sees them climbing up the relentless Tumble Mountain to finish at the summit at around 1pm keeping the suspense of who will win overall right up to the end.
The Mayor will present prizes at 3.00pm at Nantyglo Leisure Centre. For further information please visit www.juniortourofwales.org.