100 of the best junior racing cyclists in the world will be tested as never before over the August Bank Holiday, as the SD Sealants Junior Tour of Wales introduces three brand new stages.
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 Tour of Italy this year. Team Ineos’ Owain Doull won the Green Jersey in 2010– and is about to make his big race debut in next month’s Tour of Spain.
The Junior Tour starts with a time trial from Brynmawr to the western side of the Tumble Mountain on the evening of Friday August 23rd. The riders will restart on Saturday morning for a rolling 60 mile stage from Abergavenny, around Brecon and the Neath Valley to the Rhigos Mountain at the top of the Rhondda.
Sunday 25th August sees the riders – including entrants from as far afield as Israel and New Zealand, tackle 20 laps of the brand new Pembrey National Closed Road Circuit from 11am.
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. This is the first time in its 40 year history that the race has been able to visit Carmarthenshire, and a big part of the reason for that is the fantastic new circuit at Pembrey. It is a brilliant arena – and will reward the best, bravest bike handlers. It might only be 45 minutes, but they’ll be tired afterwards, because there’s nowhere to switch off and relax.”
The afternoon stage restarts from Pembrey at 3pm, heading out onto the roads towards Camarthen and a super-fast circuit around the village of Nantgaredig, which is designed to allow the sprinters to shine.
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 4 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 final stage gets underway from Abergavenny on Monday Morning from 10:30 – and is again a testing new route. Featuring lightning fast descents into Usk, Chepstow and Micheltroy, and a sprint past the iconic Tintern Abbey, the race eventually climbs through the edges of the Forest of Dean to a showdown on the fearsome Tumble Mountain – where the final Yellow Jersey will be decided.
Image: Huw Fairclough