Dragon Ride organiser Lou Lusardi is considering moving the event’s headquarters a bit further west down the M4 corridor, as well as pushing the date nearer to the start of the Tour de France.
One of Britain’s premier sportives, the Dragon Ride’s traditional home has been Pencoed – about 15 miles west of Cardiff. But the event has become so popular that it’s in danger of out-growing the car parking capacity available locally. Mr. Lusardi revealed to BikeRadar that he is considering sites at MargamPark and Felindre – both near Swansea – as potential new bases for the event. He stressed though that if the location of the headquarters changes, it won’t be at the expense of the sportive’s essential character.
“The Dragon Ride will always include the Bwlch and Rhigos. They’re our signature climbs and give the event its identity, so we have to keep them,” he said. “But even if we decide to stay in Pencoed, there will probably be some tweaks to the course next year.” One of the possible options is to run the event in the opposite direction, he said.
Despite looking at venues with more capacity, Mr Lusardi said that improving the quality of the Dragon Ride, rather than simply adding more and more riders, will be his focus in years to come. “The ultimate goal for any sportive is to achieve closed road status,” he said. “Given the population density of South Wales, and the fact that some valleys here only have one road in and out, that may never be possible for us. But there may be some middle ground.”
Mr Lusardi said he will have discussions with the relevant figures in the Welsh Assembly to highlight the massive boost to the local economy that the Dragon Ride already provides – up to £1 million by his estimation. Holding the event closer to the date of the Tour de France could boost that figure by making the Dragon Ride an attractive proposition for riders travelling to Europe from North America to watch the race, he added.
With a closed road Etape Hibernia in Ireland now set to supplement the massively successful Etape Caledonia, some might say the time is right to complete the car-free Celtic sportive trio with an Etape Cymru. It’s a tantalising prospect, and while riders would no doubt flock to a closed road Dragon Ride in even greater numbers, some might question whether there will be sufficient political will within the Welsh Assembly Government to overcome the local public opposition that such a proposal would inevitably attract.