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24 hours of Tarmac

Pics: Joolze Dymond

Yes, we’re announcing a road event. But there’s method in our madness, for this is no ordinary road event and we rather suspect that anyone with a couple of Mountain Mayhem 24hr races to their name may well be interested in it…

Shimano and Provelo Support have announced the UK’s first 24 hour road race. In true Ronseal style, it’s called The Shimano 24hr Road Race and will take place on 12/13 July 2008. Teams of five from all road categories will compete on a tough (and very unfamiliar) circuit.

Experienced enduro organiser Patrick Adams, with the financial backing of Madison, the official UK Shimano distributor, has spent over three years looking for a venue to turn this dream into reality.

‘They said it could never be done,’ said Patrick, ‘But now here we are creating yet another landmark enduro event. Ten years ago Madison and I worked hard to create the UK’s first 24 hour MTB event and now once again it is only right that we are working together to create this new watershed for enduro road racing.’

With Shimano the title sponsor for this event, Provelo has pulled out all the stops to secure an awesome 8.7 mile closed road circuit. Where will all the action take place? The Brecon Beacons, on the Sennybridge army training area. This stunning setting will drive you to your limits as you tackle what has to be one of the greatest races ever brought to everyday cyclists. A combination of dramatic descents, stunning scenery, coupled with some lung busting climbs will certainly make this an event to remember, a challenge of a lifetime and a chance to make road-racing history.

Madison CEO Dominic Langan said: ‘Finding a suitable venue for this event has been a real struggle but Pat has found a truly jaw-dropping location. There is no monotony – it has climbs, descents, hairpin bends and the Welsh weather so without doubt it’ll be a real challenge for the riders. This is unlike any other event we sponsor, it is unique, it is groundbreaking and as such it is only right that Shimano should be the title sponsor.’

This event would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Army, and in particular Major Eddie Mahony. He said: ‘It has all the makings of being a fantastic event, and we are only too happy to offer our training area to hold this 24hr Road Race. It is an outstanding location which will give all riders different challenges. And yes, we’re entering a team in what we think will be a top class road race.’

It’s not going to be simply Mayhem on Tarmac, though. The exact details of the format are still being thrashed out, but the organisers promise pure road racing at its best, requiring all the tactics, skills and, more importantly, teamwork that you would expect to find in any professional race.

Categories will be Elite / 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, with a handsome prize purse and fabulous prizes provided by Shimano. In year one, only 250 teams will be able to enter this unique event – register your interest at www.shimano24.com.

The Course

We had the opportunity to take a spin around the Sennybridge course recently, and were very impressed. The road surface is almost new and absolutely perfect – there isn’t a pothole or a ripple in it anywhere. The circuit is varied and will be hard work – there’s very little in the way of flat bits and not a great deal in the way of straights. The wind could well be an important factor – the course is up on top of a plateau, with the descents and climbs being in and out of valleys rather than up and down peaks, so a lot of it is quite exposed. On the day of our visit the main climb also featured a substantial headwind. Fortunately the event format allows for more than one team rider on course at a time.

The loop is 14km (8.7 miles) long with a total of 275m (900ft) of climbing and descending per lap. The changeover/pit area is at the high point of the course, so the early part of the lap is downhill. But there’s a bit of a sting in the tail at the end…

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