Rugby star Shane Williams tackles The Tumble ahead of Velothon Wales 2016

Rugby star Shane Williams tackles The Tumble ahead of Velothon Wales 2016

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Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams has thrown down the gauntlet to cyclists to take on his Tumble Challenge at this month’s Velothon Wales.

The retired former Ospreys star is preparing to ride the 140km Velothon Wales event on Sunday 22 May and has been tackling one of Wales’ most famous climbs in preparation.

Williams clocked 25 minutes 11 seconds for the brutal 10% gradient, category two, Tumble climb near Abergavenny, which gains 347m of height over 6km of road from the village of Govilon.

The 39-year-old has now challenged fellow cyclists to sign-up for Velothon Wales and see if they can beat his time.

Williams said: “It was a lot tougher and a lot steeper than I expected but when you go up a climb like The Tumble you can’t stop because you’ll either fall off or go back down the hill!

“I can’t wait to take part in Velothon Wales, a lot of my friends did it last year and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

“It’s not very often you get to ride on completely closed roads with professionals and thousands of amateur cyclists.

“It’s going to be hard but I’m really looking forward to it in a strange, sadistic kind of way.”

Williams has completed a host of endurance events since hanging up his boots, including last month’s London Marathon and the 2015 Ironman Wales.

He was joined by members of Pontypool Cycling Club for his practice ride up The Tumble, in typically Welsh weather of heavy rain and wind.

Justin Jones, of Pontypool Cycling Club, said: “The Tumble is the iconic climb in this valley. It’s the one all local riders fear and will be practising the most ahead of this year’s Velothon.

Anthony Hunt, Deputy Leader of Torfaen Council and keen cyclist joined Shane for the challenge.

He said: “We are blessed in this area to have some of the most challenging and beautiful road cycling climbs. The Tumble is perhaps my favourite stretch of road to train on - it’s important not to go off too hard at the bottom of the climb, find your own rhythm and then keep your legs turning over all the way to the top.

“The Velothon is a great opportunity for cyclists to visit Torfaen and the surrounding area, but we want them to come back and bring their families too. For anyone wishing to tackle the Tumble for themselves, we have put together a great itinerary, along with details of cyclist friendly accommodation and tourist activities that the whole family can enjoy.”

More details on the Tackle the Tumble Challenge are available here.

Entries for this year’s Velothon Wales are still open but will be closing this weekend, book your place in Wales’ biggest cycling event.