This week sees the launch of the 7th edition of the Tour of Wessex Cycling Festival. The highlight of the three-day festival in South West England is the 330 mile Tour of Wessex that takes place between 25-27 May 2013. Starting and finishing in Somerton each day, the 2012 event attracted more than 2,300 riders from 20 different countries, and next year it is widening its appeal still further.
New for 2013 are the free 10 and 20 mile British Cycling Breeze Rides for women only on Saturday 25 May. British Cycling will also be running Grass Track races at the event HQ in Somerton for all ages and abilities as part of their Go-Ride Racing initiative.
New ‘easier’ route options
Also new for 2013 are the Medium rides, covering 73 miles, 83 miles and 57 miles on the each of the three festival days respectively. Riders taking on these new distances will also be able to sign up for one, two or three days of riding.
At the heart of the festival is still the serious challenge of the full-distance Tour, where riders will take on everything Somerset’s roads can throw at them over three days. The 107-mile first stage includes the spectacular ascent of Cheddar Gorge as well as the tough climb up to King Alfred’s Tower.
Stage Two is the longest at 116 miles and sees riders head south to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, taking-in West Lulworth and Corfe Castle before heading back to the festival base at Somerton.
Stage three is the toughest day, as it heads west to the windswept plateau of Exmoor. What follows is 112 hard, spectacular miles via Minehead and the tough Porlock Toll road climb up onto the moor before the descent into Dulverton, and a long ride back to the finish via Taunton.
Wendy houvenaghel climbing up through cheddar gorge: wendy houvenaghel climbing up through cheddar gorgeTour of Wessex
Cheddar Gorge features on day 1 of the Tour of Wessex
Many participants in the past have chosen to camp at Somerton Sports Ground during the event but this year the unique Pop-Up Hotel will offer riders and their families the convenience – and luxury – of staying and dining on-site.
Joining the Pop Up Hotel at the start-finish area will be the Rotary Club Charity tea tent, Claud the Butler Pop Up Café and a Cider Bar stocked by Somerset’s own Orchard Pig, as well as sports nutrition supplier Accelerade UK.
Also involved with the 2013 Tour will be official charity partner Rotary Charity Fundraisers. Working with event organisers Pendragon Sports, they are offering riders raising a specific level of sponsorship the chance to receive free cycling kit and a refund on their entry fee. All money will go towards selected charities, with riders also able to nominate their own charity or good cause. All riders will also receive a goody bag full of Somerset produce and free gifts from sponsors.
Entry starts from £30 for each day’s ride (short options), while the three day ride starts from £90.