By Ben Atkins
Just under 2000 riders were treated to hot, sunny weather and dry roads as they took the challenge of either 120km or 180km in last weekend's Dragon Ride Wales, one of Britain's largest cyclosportive events. Despite a heavy rain shower falling on the start/finish area at Pencoed College in the middle of the day, riders on the course were spared and enjoyed perfect conditions for the entire day.
The course featured plenty of climbing in the hills and valleys of Glamorgan South Wales, to the north of Bridgend, including two ascents of the fearsome Bwlch whose early ramps have gradients of up to 14 percent. In all, the 180km "Gran Fondo" route climbed a total of approximately 3000 metres.
"It's been a great day, I'm very pleased with the new venue," said event organiser Lou Lusardi. "It's got masses of potential and I'm already planning all those little tweaks that will make the 2009 event the best yet. We've had a great deal of feedback about the route itself and it seems that most people think it's just about spot on."
The fastest rider on the day finished the "Gran Fondo" course in a provisional time of 5 hours 11 minutes reflecting the quality of the field entered, many of whom were riding the event as a warm-up for this weekend's upcoming London-Paris race.
After the success of this year's event, Lusardi confirmed that the provisional date for 2009 has already been set on Sunday, June 14.