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Wiggle Etape Cymru to Become an Open Road Event in 2015?

by Nick Gregory

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It's believed that organisers of the Wiggle Etape Cymru, Human Race, are considering an open road format for 2015 in an attempt to appease isolated local opposition to the event. 

In the build up to this year's edition, which took place last weekend, one local councillor claimed the disruption caused by the road closures had inflicted "four years of hell" on the residents in his community. 

When contacted by Cyclosport, Human Race PR & Marketing Exec, Chris Atkinson wouldn't be drawn on whether the event would definitely feature an open road format for 2015; instead he stressed the success of this year's event and the excellent level of support that the 2,000 participants received from local residents. 

"For 2015 onwards, we are looking at all options for the event including an open or partially open road event, and as part of our commitment to open communication with the local community we have already informed the local Community Councils, Councillors and various groups such as the Local Access Forum that we have been liaising with over the past months." 

"We would like to thank the local communities for their understanding and support over the last few months and working with us to identify and assist residents and businesses in making alternative arrangements where possible, and in assisting in their vehicle movements where required." 

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Despite saboteurs placing tacks and nails on the route last year, it appears the 2014 edition avoided any repeat scenes. The 85 mile route was changed slightly from 2013, "to reduce the impact on certain areas," following feedback from residents on the route. 

Ahead of Sunday's event, Councillor Huw Jones, Denbighshire's cabinet lead member for leisure, told the BBC: "This event is fast earning a reputation as a prestigious event in the cycling calendar, with increasing number of participants making their way to north east Wales to compete." 

However, Wrexham councillor, John Phillips said his ward of Penycae saw 10 hours of road closures last year. He told NEWS NORTH WALES the event had caused "four years of hell" for his community 

He said: "We have had year on year of this and the people of Penycae have had enough. Why should we lose out when other parts of the borough benefit financially? In this day and age it is totally unacceptable for this to happen. There are other parts of the county that have never had this race and it should be their turn. People have been made prisoners in their own homes." 

Nevertheless, many riders supported Wrexham-based charity, Nightingale House Hospice, and the charity's fundraising and events manager, Margaret Hollings said: "The hospice is proud to be local charity partner to the Wiggle Etape Cymru again. It is a hugely successful local event for Nightingale House, attracting 55 participants from Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire." 

She continued: "Judging by the success of the previous two years, the hospice could expect to benefit from more than £10,000 in sponsorship. This makes a real difference, funding local palliative care. We cannot thank the organisers Human Race enough for their support." 

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Kirsty Wilde, operations director of Human Race, also stressed that the organisers had kept the local community informed of plans for the route for this year's event, including holding drop-in sessions in partnership with Wrexham Council. 

"Human Race have a strict post event review policy which includes route reviews and the collation and review of feedback received from the local community and the councils," she explained. 

"As part of this process we identify and scrutinise all alternative routes available, considering their local impact and the safety of all involved and, where improvements can be made and are safe to do so, they will be implemented." 

"Following the 2013 review we have implemented the recommendations that scrutiny submitted. These included for example a reduction in closure hours, and for Penycae not to be on the route twice. That resulted in the length of road closures at Penycae being cut from 10 hours to seven hours this year." 

Did you ride the Wiggle Etape Cymru? Let us know what you thought...