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The scene is set for a great battle on Welsh roads as the reining Olympic champion, the world champion and the current holder and World Cup series leader have confirmed they will ride the eighth leg of the UCI Women's Road World Cup in Newport on August 20.
Coming to British soil for the first time, the World Cup race will pitch Australia's formidable current Olympic Champion Sara Carrigan (team Tan Van Bemmelen), against team Nurnberger's world champion Judith Arndt of Germany, and 2004 World Cup winner Oenone Wood of Australia, who will be looking to hold on to her lead of this year's current World Cup.
Also joining this trio of champions in Newport will be a veritable who's who of women's cycling, including Suzanne de Goede (Hol, Van Bemmelen) and the ever-formidable Katherine Bates (Aus, Van Bemmelen). Also on the line will be one of the hottest favourites for this leg, Commonwealth champion Nicole Cooke, who will be riding in front of her home crowd and hoping to put the disappointment of the Giro behind her with a win on her native soil.
Oenone Wood, who will be racing in the UK for the first time at the World Cup comments "I've heard rumour that the course is fairly tough, so I am looking forward to seeing it first hand. The race is pretty important to the overall standings of the World Cup so my Nurnberger team will be motivated for a win. We might have a bit of competition though, especially from British riders looking for a result on home territory."
Bill Owen, race president of the UCI Women's Road World Cup comments: "Wales is fast becoming a popular choice for international sporting events, and the World Cup, attended by many of the world's leading women's cyclists, provides excellent evidence of this. Now with the 2012 London Olympics on the horizon, I hope many of young people who come to watch the race, will be inspired to try a little bit of pedal power for themselves and who knows, it may take them all the way to the Olympic podium."
The World Cup race starts and finishes at The Celtic Manor Resort and takes in Cats Ash Road, Langstone and the A48 to Caerwent. From there the riders will turn left towards Llanvair Discoed and the difficult climb of Wentwood. There is then a very fast decent to Llantrisant and Newbridge-on-Usk before the field turn left again on the Caerleon-Usk road. After passing through Caerleon the severe climb of Belmont Hill has to be tackled just before entering The Celtic Manor Resort to cross the finish line and complete one lap. The race takes in three full laps and six climbs to complete the course.
The day after the World Cup race, amateur enthusiasts get the chance to test themselves on the roads and valleys of South Wales and line up against top British rider Cooke. There are three routes to choose from offering different distances and level of challenge, plus a fourth, family-friendly route for a gentler ride in the grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort. Entry forms and more information from www.bikewales.org
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