The cycling stars of the future head to the Brecon Beacons this weekend for the Junior Tour of Wales.
The 29th edition of the three-day stage race spans the August bank holiday weekend, comprising of five fast and furious stages traversing the spectacular scenery of the Brecon Beacons and starting with a stunning five-mile climb up Tumble Mountain on the opening time trial.
The race has proved in the past to be a breeding ground for future top professional cyclists with Mark Cavendish and Edvald Boasson Hagen having ridden it in recent years, with Dan Martin taking overall honours in 2004.
Sam Harrison, who was 12th last year and a Young Sports Personality of the Year award nominee is one of a trio of hopefuls riding for the Welsh national team along with Jon Mould, Rhys Gravelle and Rowan Marshall.
Confidence was high in the Welsh camp when Harrison spoke to Cycling Weekly: “I’m really looking forward to the Tour…it’s going to be really challenging but that just makes it better,” Harrison commented.
“There’s a really good quality field which will be full of competition as there’s about eight people that could win it. My aim is to get in the top three but if we can get one Welshman in there it will be fantastic.”
Welsh team mate John Mould is also competing in the race and was equally enthusiastic. “I’m defiantly looking forward to it, as it going to be so tough. I’m still hoping for a top three finish and hopefully a stage win along the way,” said Mould.
Last year’s winner, Eric Rowsell, has since graduated to the British Cycling Olympic Academy. This year, the race is wide-open but the winner will be almost certainly destined for greatness.
1. Erick Rowsell 7-45-56
2. Johan Fredrik Ziesler at 8secs
3. Joe Perrett at 53secs
2008 Erick Rowsell
2007 Johhny McEvoy
2006 Tom Diggle
2005 Alex Dowsett
2004 Daniel Martin
Saturday, August 29. 10.30
Time Trial. 6 miles
Start: Blaenavon Road. 300m from roundabout
Course: Brynmawr-Blaenavon Road-Tumble at one-minute intervals
Saturday, August 29. 15.00
Road Race. 50 miles
Finish: 1km after summit at 17.15
Sunday, August 30. 11:00
Circuit Race. 24 miles.
Start/Finish: Bryn Bach Park.
Sunday, August 30. 15.30
Road Race. 45 miles.
Course: Bryn Bach Park, A465 direction of Merthyr-A470 direction Cardiff-Nelson-Fochriw-Merthyr Common-A465-Cwm Bargoed (x2 circuits)
Finish: Prince of Wales Inn, Princetown, Tredegar.
Monday, August 31. 10.30
Road Race. 62 miles
Course: Nantyglo–A465W–Dowlais–Hirwaun–Storey Arms–Brecon–A40–Abergavenny–Llanfoist
Finish: Tumble (Keepers) Mountain, Blaenavon approx 13.15