After a chaotic first edition in 2011, the new organisers of the closed-road Etape Cymru sportive in North Wales pulled out all the stops to deliver a first-rate event on Sunday.
With promises to fix the issues of last year – errant motorists, empty feed stations and inept marshalling to name just a few – the pressure was on Human Race to come up with the goods. And come up with them they did, with many punters – including BikeRadar – reckoning it was about as good as it gets in terms of sportives in Britain.
A new depart village at the more spacious and accessible Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse together with the ditching of the mass start in favour of a staggered one ensured the frenzied scenes from last year’s start in Wrexham were avoided.
The roads were for the most part kept closed to traffic by marshals. However there was one serious incident where a cyclist suffered spinal injuries after being hit by a vehicle yards from the finish.
Human Race Chief Executive Nick Rusling was delighted with how the day went, despite obvious concern for the 55-year-old man involved in the crash near the racecourse.
“We had one year to try and make the Etape Cymru a success,” he told BikeRadar. “The area has some of the best roads in Britain so the route was never in doubt, but what we had to do was showcase it through a professionally run event.
“Many riders have said it’s one of the best sportives they’ve experienced in the UK and that after being through last year’s debacle they were glad to have given it another go.
“[We’re] taking the incident extremely seriously and are currently working closely with the police to understand exactly how it happened. At the time, significant medical support was able to respond extremely quickly to the scene and the cyclist is now receiving the best possible care in hospital.
“As organisers we are unable to talk about [his] wellbeing but wish him very well.”
Closed roads a tricky task
Closing the roads to motorists for a cycling event is always a tricky task to pull off, especially in a part of the country which is peppered with small towns and villages.
Local residents took to Twitter to complain that they were unable to get out of their own driveways, but Rusling says his company did everything they could to bring it to the attention of locals.
“Letters were posted to the homes affected by the event, we put notices in newspapers, we worked with Wrexham and Denbighshire councils, and all the affected Parish councils, to help spread the message,” he added.
Cones were also put on the end of each affected driveway with a phone number on for people to call if they needed to get out, while local vicars and doctors were escorted along the course by motorbike marshals.
Despite a minority being inconvenienced, with nearly 1,500 riders (plus family) flooding the region over the course of the weekend, Rusling believes it has, and will continue to provide a financial boost to a struggling local economy.