Sun shines on the 4,000 Dragon Slayers of South Wales
Close to 4,000 riders completed the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales 2018 on Sunday 10 June. Temperatures hit 25 degrees, and riders sweated it out tackling one of the four routes, from the Macmillan 100 (100km), right up to the Dragon Devil (300km) – the UK’s longest one day sportive.
The Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France saw riders come from 26 countries to slay the Dragon. Wales did not disappoint, as cyclists tackled a up to 3,600m of vertical climbing, and the appearance of Le Tour’s super-fan, Didi “The Devil” Senft, delighted riders and added a touch of magic from the world’s greatest cycling event.
With riders heading out from 6:45am, the spectacular routes took in some of the most famous climbs, including Black Mountain, Bwlych, Rhigos and the Devil’s Staircase. Riders were surprised by Didi the Devil leaping about as they climbed the Devil’s Elbow, which was the site of the closed-road timed climb competition (1km distance, 9.8% gradient). With official Le Tour de France polka-dot jerseys up for grabs, Andy Cunningham claimed the King of the Mountain (00:03:55), and the title of Queen of the Mountains went to Carol Bridge (00:05:03).
The climbs were punctuated by the famous feed-stations featuring 800kg of garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, which have become an event signature. Riders were also fuelled by nutrition partner, Optimum Nutrition, who provided Gold BCAA Train + Sustain drinks, gels and Protein Oats Flapjack bars to help maintain performance during prolonged exercise, and rewarded riders at the end with Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein shake to aid recovery. Riders were also delighted to receive a refreshing pint of liquid gold Erdinger Alkoholfrei – the perfect post-ride isotonic thirst quencher!
Mechanical wizards from VONCRANK, the “uber” of bike mechanics, provided sterling on course mechanical support, and their team tuned up hundred of bikes over the weekend.
520 of the riders who completed the Dragon Ride were actually on Day 3 of the Dragon Tour. In its fourth year, the Dragon Tour has two or three-day options for riders to make the most of a weekend away and tackle up to 500km over the weekend (and up to 6,000m of vertical climbing). This year the Dragon Tour was run from the beautiful Glanusk Estate in the heart of the Black Mountains and took in the additional iconic climbs of Gospel Pass and The Tumble.
Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race Events, said; “The sheer splendour of the route is the reason riders come back year on year, and this year was particularly awesome. It’s always emotional welcoming the final riders – a number of whom had been out on the road for upwards of 15 hours. You couldn’t fail to recognise what completing the ride meant to these riders, nor the grit and determination involved in taking on the challenge.”
370 riders were taking part for Team Macmillan, whose support team cheered with all of might at their on-course cheer station on Devil’s Elbow. Their incredible efforts have so far raised £60,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, and they’re hoping to hit £100,000 in total.
A pre-sale of entries for next year’s Dragon Ride opened until 10am on Wednesday 13 June 2018, giving riders the chance to beat the annual rush for places that sees thousands of entries sold in a single day when the event is officially launched in the autumn.
The 2019 event will take place on Sunday 9 June and will again start and finish at Margam Park.