Abergavenny is set to become a cycling fan’s dream from this weekend as the picturesque Welsh town plays host to a week-long festival of cycling culminating in the National Road Race Championships.
The festival kicks off this weekend with the Iron Mountain Sportif which offers you the chance to test yourself on a choice of six routes over two days with something for all comers. The Iron Mountain covers the same roads Britain's elite riders will be racing over for the National Championships next weekend.
Online entry for the sportif is closed but organisers confirm that you can still enter on the line and the weather forecast looks like we're set for some glorious cycling weather (more details below).
Other attractions over the weekend are include activities for kids - with Go Ride skills sessions and fun races, and on Sunday there's the Wesh Schools Grasstrack Championships (wish I'd gone to a school with grass track racing on the curriculum). There will be time action tomorrow too with a 25 mile TT - entry for that is closed.
Throughout the week their will be accompanied rides for all abilities.
On Friday June 26, the Wales Open Criterium will bring together some of the country's best road racers to Abergavenny on a slightly-changed circuit around the town centre streets. A seriess of youth crits will be the curtain raiser for the main event – entries for the youth crit races and the Open are still available.
Next weekend (27-28 June) sees the festival climax with three British road race championships for men, women and junior categories.
The men's race on Sunday brings together the best of Britain's elite riders, including Mark Cavendish, his confirmation completes what is arguably the best field ever assembled to compete for the British jersey.
Cavendish joins a line-up which includes Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins, plus other Olympic medallists, Tour de France riders and previous national champions who will take on the challenging 160 kilometre course as the festival's finale next weekend on Sunday June 28 around roads of Monmouthshire.
"The men's race is wide open and I really do not know who is going to win it. To have Mark Cavendish entering just completes a sensational line-up. The course has numerous different elements which will test riders across the board so there is no obvious favourite.
"And, with the finish line in the centre of Abergavenny, it would be one of the best sporting moments in the town's history should we witness a combination of Cavendish, Wiggins, Millar, Thomas, Downing, Hayles, Newton and Hammond - or all of them at once - charging to the line in a real Tour de France-style sprint finish.”
The Women and Juniors battle it out on Saturday and the women's race also promises exciting racing with World and Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke up against the in form Emma Pooley in what should be a race to remember.
Commenting on the line ups for the men's and women's races Abergavenny Festival of Cycling organiser Bill Owen said: "These are, without doubt, the best fields ever assembled for the National Championships.
Iron Mountain Sportif 20 and 21 June
This weekend's Iron Mountain Sportif gives the public a chance to ride the National Road Race Championships course, and is a must for anyone that fancies a two-wheeled challenge. Online entry is still open and there is a choice of three rides on each day over different routes: 25 mile - bronze, 50 - silver, or a 100 mile -gold. You can enter rides on both days or simply choose to do one.
You can tackle distances from 25 miles to 50 miles or attempt the whole National Championships 100 miles course - including the famous Tumble Mountain climb.
Festival organisers reckon that the format of six routes over two days, the Iron Mountain breaks new ground with a course to meet all comers. From the flat plains and rolling hills to the down right serious climbs of the Iron Mountain.
Day one is the tried and tested route as previous years while day two takes in the Wye Valley and Monmouth before climbing the little known Pwll Du with its dramatic ascent of the Iron Mountain before moving into Powys and the Brecon Beacons National Park, the pass of Cwm Sorgwm and the run down to Abergavenny.
For more info visit the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling’s website at www.abergavennyfestivalofcycling.co.uk
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.