On Sunday 9 September, cyclists took to the roads of North Wales to complete the Etape Cymru 2012. This end of season sportive covered 92 miles on closed roads and took in over 3000m of climbing, providing those who took part with a challenging day in the saddle.
One of just three closed-road sportives in the UK, the Etape Cymru’s route attracted over 1,200 entrants, and took in tough climbs such as The Horseshoe Pass, The Garth and Worlds End. Fantastic conditions on the day meant that participants had clear views of the Clwydian Range (an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and were joined on the climbs by energetic spectators.
Olympic medallist and Wrexham local, Chris Bartley, rode the event and was the first to cross the finish line with his friend, hand in hand. Bartley became the first Welsh Olympic medallist at London 2012 with silver in the lightweight rowing men's four and used cycling as a key part of his Olympic preparations.
Speaking after the event, Bartley seemed very impressed with the day. “The Etape Cymru was a brilliant event and the whole day was a great experience. It was lovely to see so many people out on their bikes enjoying the Welsh countryside."
He continued: "Even with all the training, it was a tough day in the saddle, so it was nice to relax in the event village after the ride and chat to other participants.”
Armed with cameras, flags and cowbells, the crowds cheered riders on, and really helped to create an electric atmosphere on The Horseshoe Pass where there was a timed King of the Mountain stage. Official Charity Partner, Macmillan Cancer Support, had a great presence close to the Britannia Pub on the climb to help challengers knock seconds off their King of the Mountain attempts.
This year the ride was managed by experienced event organisers, Human Race, with support from Wrexham and Denbighshire Councils to allow the road closures. They took comments from the 2011 event and reviewed these to put together a brilliant overall experience, providing support at the start and finish, signing and marshaling on the course, mechanical assistance and well-stocked feed stations.
Hannah White, who took part in the Etape Cymru with a group of friends, had great things to say about how she spent her Sunday: “We arrived at the Bangor-on-Dee racecourse to a real buzz and had a while to mix with others taking part and make final preparations before being set off in our wave right on time.”
She continued: “It was definitely a tough ride and we were really glad to have the roads to ourselves, giving us space to take things at our own speed – and stop for a breather every now and again.”
The four feed stations on the route meant that riders were well fuelled throughout with products from leading sports nutrition supplier and official event partner, Zipvit Sport. The energy bars, gels, recovery drinks and water were continually re-stocked throughout the day, ensuring that participants could easily stay energised and hydrated.
All participants were treated to extensive ride support whilst they tackled the course, enabling them to thoroughly enjoy the beautiful Welsh countryside and the rare opportunity to ride on closed-roads.
The expert network of support staff included a medical crew, motorcycle stewards, marshals and a broom wagon to collect any riders who could not complete the distance.
Human Race, the event’s organiser, gave their thanks to Wrexham County Borough Council and Denbighshire County Council for their help in making the Etape Cymru such a success.
Nick Rusling, CEO, also told of the company’s pride in supporting charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support and local charity partner, Nightingale House: “Both organisations do tremendous work and we are delighted that riders chose to raise funds for such great causes. After putting so much hard work into the event, it’s really rewarding to know that the personal challenge taken on by participants will make such a difference to those the charities reach.”
Ian Lulham, Cycling Event Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support said, “Etape Cymru has been a fantastic success for us this year, we had a large team of riders raising money to help support people living with cancer in the UK.”
With riders now resting their legs after what event ambassador Geraint Thomas called “one of the toughest closed-road events in Britain”, Human Race can be incredibly proud of a well-organised event which will no doubt become an eagerly anticipated fixture on the annual sportive calendar.
Entries for Etape Cymru 2013 are now open. To enter or for more information visit http://www.etape-cymru.co.uk