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Dragon Ride L'Etape Wales Returns For Fourteenth Year

by Holly Blades

Margam Park, near Port Talbot, played host on Sunday to the 5,000 cyclists who had managed to secure a place at this year's sold out Dragon Ride L'Étape Wales by Le Tour de France.

In its fourteenth year, the event - amongst the world's most highly-regarded amateur cycling events - provided riders with an opportunity to take on one of four routes through the peaks and valleys of the Brecon Beacons. Ranging in distance from 100km (62 miles) to 300km (186 miles), the routes included a number of the region's famous climbs, including Bwlch, Rhigos, Devil's Elbow, Black Mountain and Devil's Staircase.


For nearly 600 of those taking part, Sunday was the culmination of the Dragon Tour, that had seen them ride over 100km of the region's most picturesque roads on both Friday and Saturday.  

For the second time, the event was part of the global 'L'Étape' series of official Tour de France sportives.

Ahead of their ride, entrants were offered good luck messages from three-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, as well as local hero and Team Sky Tour rider, Luke Rowe. On the day itself, Margam Park was transformed into a Tour de France-style event village, with a number of Tour de France activations available for participants to enjoy. After finishing, riders relaxed in front of a big screen showing live coverage of the Critérium du Dauphiné professional race. Didi Senft, the Tour's famous red devil, was positioned on the Devil's Elbow to cheer on riders as they took on the closed-road, timed climb.


Steven Green was the fastest male rider up the one kilometre ascent, with its average gradient of 9.8%. His time of four minutes and eight seconds saw him crowned the 2017 King of the Mountain. The title of Queen of the Mountain went to Emma Frost, who completed the climb in five minutes and thirty-four seconds. Both were awarded a Tour de France, polka-dot, climbers jersey signed by Chris Froome as well as entry into L'Étape du Tour that takes place next month.  Didi was joined on Devil's Elbow by a group of supporters from Dragon Ride L'Étape Wales' official charity, Macmillan Cancer Support.


Riders are anticipated to have raised £120,000 via this year's event. Fundraisers were rewarded for their efforts with refreshments and post-ride massages. André Quentel, Deputy CEO of Le Tour de France organisers, A.S.O., had travelled from Paris to take part in the 230km Gran Fondo distance and said the following after crossing the finishing line: "I had the pleasure of riding Dragon Ride L'Étape Wales for the first time today. I have worked on both professional and amateur cycling events for many years, and yet this truly was a unique event. The Welsh landscapes are fabulous, the challenge is very tough, the organisation is excellent, while the Tour de France experiences add some real magic. The atmosphere amongst the riders out on the road was electric. See you all next year in Wales!"


A pre-sale of entries for next year's Dragon Ride L'Étape Wales by Le Tour de France, as well as the Dragon Tour, will take place for 48 hours from 10am on Monday 12th June.

This will allow riders to beat the annual rush for places that sees thousands of entries sold in a single day when the event is officially launched in the autumn.  The 2018 event will take place on Sunday 10th June and will again start and finish at Margam Park.

Those wishing to secure a place should visit http://www.letapeuk.co.uk/





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