The Wiggle Dragon Ride will become one of the UCI’s golden bike sportives in 2012, joining seven others to hold the prestigious title for the year.
The Dragon Ride is the second biggest sportive in the UK after the Etape Caledonia, and will attract 4,150 cyclists when its 2011 event sets off a week on Sunday.
The UCI’s Golden Bike events are ones that the body selects for their “excellent organisation, sporting value and touristic interest.”
Organiser Lou Lusadi told Cycling Weekly that he is “overjoyed” at the event’s inclusion.
“It’s been so many years of trying,” he said. “It will bring the event a lot more prestige. It will help immensely with coverage, especially in Wales and it’ll put us on a pedestal.
“We’ve been trying since 2005,” he continued. “It’s been an ongoing dialogue ever since then. I had hoped that we’d get it by 2008/9. The UCI sent commissaries to the event in 2008 and 2009. They made recommendations, which we enacted. We’ve worked really hard for it.”
Golden Bike events form part of an annual series, from which riders ‘collect’ events by receiving a stamp in their ‘Golden Bike passport’ for every one they ride. A rider that collects all the events in the series becomes a ‘Gold Rider.’
Plans for the future
Lusadi has plans to take the event forward in the coming years, including looking at gaining road closure.
“Road closure has definitely been one of our objectives for a while,” he said. “We’ll work with the new closed roads Gran Fondo Cymru and see whether we can work on a format with them.”
Currently, it would be hard for the event to grow much beyond the size that it already is, with limitations on the numbers of cyclists that can share the roads with traffic.
However, organizers of the world’s largest sportive – the Cape Argus sportive -, have worked with Dragon Ride and believe it may be able to achieve numbers upwards of forty thousand if closed road status were achieved.
Two hundred and eighty riders took part in the inaugural Dragon Ride in 2004, and the event has grown rapidly since. It doubled in size for its first two years, and organizers hope to increase the numbers another ten percent for next year. It has been Cycling Weekly’s Cyclosportive of the Year for the past three years.
Riders wind through the Welsh valleys on a previous year’s Dragon Ride
Welsh scenery provides a backdrop for Dragon Ride cyclists