The Etape Cymru is back for 2012, with this year’s edition taking place on Sunday 9 September, and what’s more, new owners with experience of large-scale closed road events who have promised to avoid mistakes made last year that saw the event attract stinging criticism from some participants.
New organiser Participate Sport’s chief executive, Nick Rusling, was formerly managing director at IMG, and helped set up the Etape Caledonia and Etape Hibernia, which other than the similarity in names have no connection with the Etape Cymru.
Last year’s inaugural edition of the Etape Cymru, organised by outdoor event business K-Extreme, resulted in criticism regarding safety and other issues, the most serious being that the road at the top of the Horsehoe pass was open to traffic and not closed, as had been promised.
Other issues highlighted included inexperienced marshals, if they were there at all, missing signage, bunching of riders in the early part of the course, misleading information regarding the amount of climbing to be undertaken, and poorly stocked feed stations which saw many participants miss out. A promised gilet also failed to materialise.
Particpate Sport has said that it is determined avoid a repeat of those mistakes in 2012, including making some major changes to the 100-mile route.
“We’ve listened to the comments of 2011 riders and are fully committed to making sure the Etape Cymru is a fantastic event and a fantastic experience,” explained Rusling.
“We also run the Wiggle Dragon Ride meaning riders will be able to enjoy beautiful cycling scenery in both North and South Wales this year,” he added.
Other events owned and organised by Particpate Sport include Cycletta, Cornwall Festival of Sport and the British 10k London Run, and many of the team previously worked at IMG, focusing on mass participation events.
Changes to this year's Etape Cymru, which is supported by Wrexham and Denbighshire County Councils, include a staggered start with the opening ten miles taking place on wider roads than last year, to avoid the bunching on narrow, twisting roads that caused a frustrating delay in the cold for many participants.
Participate Sport also revealed there will be “significant changes to the traffic management and marshalling” of the event, including bringing the ascent of the Horsehoe Pass forward in the route, which will also enable riders to tackle it while they are feeling fresh.
It added that it has collated comments made by those who took part last year “and will be investing in key areas such as the start process, feed stations and the integrity of the closed roads, meaning riders will receive a top-class experience.”
Rusling said: “The Etape Cymru takes place in a spectacular part of the world with amazing scenery and great local support.
“We’re used to delivering events to the highest possible standard and will be calling on our extensive experience of running events to make the Etape Cymru a success.”
The event also has the backing of Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who said: “The route of the Etape Cymru in North Wales is absolutely spectacular and makes me proud to be a Welsh cyclist.
“I've got full confidence that the breathtaking scenery, closed road conditions and great Welsh hospitality will make the Etape Cymru on Sunday 9th September 2012 a very special event in the cycling calendar."
Thomas added: "The team at Participate Sport organise great events and I'm pleased to be part of what's going to be a fantastic day out in Wales for cyclists from all over the UK."
Full details of the event can be found on the Etape Cymru website, where entries are now open, at a cost of £55. The Wiggle Dragon Ride is already sold out, but there are a limited number of places available as part of a joint entry with the Etape Cymru, at a combined cost of £100.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.