The Dragon Ride has long since earned a reputation for being one of the UK’s very best sportives thanks to its stunning landscape, perfectly-judged routes and incredible Tour-style climbs – now it’s being extended into the three-day Dragon Tour, giving riders more miles over which to appreciate Wales’ beautiful countryside.
Taking place on Friday 5 to Sunday 7 June 2015, the Dragon Tour is based from Swansea – a location that gives easy access to gorgeous Welsh scenery – and each day has been designed to offer something completely different.
Day one will begin with a 100km ride heading west along Mumbles and then following the Gower peninsula, presenting riders with breathtaking views of the South Wales coastline. The return journey to Swansea will take riders up Constitution Hill, which organisers Human Race are investigating making a closed-road section. Day one primes riders’ legs with 1,015m of climbing for the following stages.
Day two’s 96km test through the Brecon Beacons includes the infamous Black Mountain climb, navigated in reverse direction to the following day’s Dragon Ride route. Riders then turn west onto a series of tough climbs and sweeping descents including the day’s biggest challenge up Betws Mountain, taking the total climbing up to 1,056m.
Event director, Rob Hillman, says of the route: “The first day winds along the Gower peninsula so there are less signature climbs but plenty of stunning views along the coast. The second day is closer to the style of route of the main Wiggle Dragon Ride and takes us up into the western side of the Brecon Beacons where there are some tough climbs but lots of great roads and a hidden gem in the last climb of the day.
“One of the big challenges is providing cycling that is tough enough for people to want to part of the event but not so tough that there is nothing left in the tank for the Wiggle Dragon Ride.”
Following day two, with over 2,000m of climbing and nearly 200km in their legs, Dragon Tour participants can unwind and refuel on inspiration for the following day’s efforts thanks to Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and world championship winner Stephen Roche, who will be special guest at an exclusive meal at the Swansea Marriott.
Speaking ahead of the event, Roche said: “The Tour will be a fantastic addition to the already very popular Wiggle Dragon Ride event. I expect the three days of cycling to be a popular option, with South Wales offering some fantastic cycling routes, in the surroundings of some of the UK’s most stunning scenery. I am looking forward to being a part of it and meeting cyclist to share my cycling stories at the rider dinner on the Saturday night.”
The Dragon Tour’s grand finale is the Wiggle Dragon Ride itself, which offers four race distances. Of these the 152km Medio Fondo and the 223km Gran Fondo are available in the Tour package, though super-tough riders can upgrade to the 300km Dragon Devil route if they’ve not punished themselves enough already.
Hillman says: “We know that a high proportion of our existing riders come down to South Wales either on the Friday or Saturday prior to the main ride… So we felt, why not make the most of this and offer something more formal where riders get to sample more of what the area has to offer in terms of cycling?
“Additionally, we wanted to offer something that gave groups of riders the chance to come and ride together in a more relaxed environment where they can congregate in the evenings and experience something that is fairly unique.
“We want people to leave on Sunday night having had three of the best days riding imaginable, with fellow riders who you can have a drink and some food with in the evenings and reflect on a job well done. We’re hoping that cyclists really get a little flavour of Tour riding conditions and experience something that just isn’t available elsewhere.”
The Dragon Tour is part of Human Race’s sportive event line-up, which includes the London Cycle Sportive, Chiltern 100, Wiggle Etape Cymru and the newly added Lionheart Cyclosportive. Entry is available through Human Race’s website, where you’ll also find the company’s special Dragon Ride e-zine.