Five reasons why you should ride the closed-road Velothon Wales sportive in 2016

Sponsored feature: South Wales sportive returns for 2016 after successful debut edition - here's why you should ride it

Velothon Wales, the fully closed-road sportive and professional men’s road race, returns in 2016 after a successful debut in May last year.

The sportive is part of the European-wide Velothon Majors and will welcome 18,000 riders to the Cardiff start line on Sunday May 22, ahead of a UCI 1.1-ranked road race.

The Velothon Wales is one of the most popular sportives in the UK (Pic: rb create)

A challenging route, with stunning Welsh scenery, tough climbs and closed roads make it one of the UK’s must-ride sportives. What’s more, you can get 10% off entry by using the promo code RCUK on the Velothon Wales website.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should add Velothon Wales to your sportive calendar for 2016.

Closed roads

Is there a better feeling than tackling a sportive safe in the knowledge it is just you and your fellow cyclists on the road?

Is there a better feeling than riding on traffic-free roads? (Pic: rb create)

Fully closed roads and a challenging, scenic route to enjoy mark Velothon Wales as a must-ride event (pic: Velothon)

Velothon Wales is one of the UK’s biggest sportives and one of only a handful that take place on traffic-free roads – both the full 140km route and 110km ‘short cut’.

Riding on closed roads is an exhilarating experience, taking the racing line on a hairpin, zipping along in a peloton, and having a taste of life as a pro cyclist.

Closed-road sportives are a rarity, so when one as good as this comes along it’s worth the entry fee alone.

Scenic and challenging 140km route

Rolling out of Cardiff city centre, the 140km Velothon Wales route takes in the rolling South Wales countryside, including the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Velothon Wales takes in the best of South Wales (Pic: rb create)

It’s a fast start on flat roads, with riders taking in Newport and Usk before the rolling roads of the Brecon Beacons offer the perfect scenic backdrop to your ride.

The route heads north to Abergavenny before the first of two tough climbs, The Tumble (more on that later), where there will be a King and Queen of the Mountains challenge.

There’s then a return south through Pontypool, Newbridge and Caerphilly – including the thigh-numbing Caerphilly Mountain.

The route showcases the heart of South Wales before a fast descent from Caerphilly and a city centre finish back in Cardiff.

If the 140km route proves too much, there will also be a 110km ‘short cut’ on the day.

Two tough climbs

The 140km route packs in 1,826m of climbing with two key Welsh ascents standing out.

The Tumble is the first of two major climbs on the route

First up, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, comes The Tumble – as featured at the Tour of Britain – where the King of the Mountains challenge is hosted.

The Tumble is six kilometres in length and has an average gradient of 7.2 per cent, meaning this isn’t one for the faint-hearted. Some sections are significantly steeper and as you climb out of the forest and onto the beautiful open hillside, you will be rewarded with fantastic views of South Wales as you catch your breathe.

You’ll also need to keep plenty in the tank for the return south, with Caerphilly Mountain on the cards too.

The iconic ascent was a Milk Race favourite in days gone by and, like The Tumble, has also featured in the Tour of Britain in recent years. Despite being just 1.28km long, Caerphilly Mountain packs a mean punch with an average gradient of 8.4 per cent.

Scale of event and spectators

It’s not just the route that makes Velothon Wales stand out either, with the sheer scale of the event making it well worth the visit.

Spectators line the route for the sportive and road race (Pic: rb create)

Part of the UCI Velothon Majors series, alongside the Garmin Velothon Berlin, Velothon Stuttgart, Velothon Stockholm and the new Velothon Majors Copenhagen, this is far from your average sportive.

Velothon Wales will also host a cycling festival and expo, and, with the pro race to follow the sportive, you’ll find spectators on the route cheering you on.

When it was first announced, British Cycling’s cycle sport and membership director Jonny Clay summed it nicely.

“When you add in the natural landscape of Wales and the vibrancy of the city of Cardiff,” he said, “there is no doubt that Velothon Wales will be a memorable event, not just for 2015, but for many years to come.”

Ride before the pro race

Speaking of the pro race, it’s classified 1.1 by cycling’s world governing body, making it one of just four British one-day races incorporated into the UCI Europe Tour calendar (alongside RideLondon, Rutland-Melton and Northumberland’s Beaumont Trophy).

Russell Downing was a top-five finisher in last year’s pro race (pic: Alex Whitehead/

Last year’s race pitched the best of Britain’s domestic teams with UCI ProContinental team Cult Energy – for whom Martin Mortensen won – and UCI Continental teams from across Europe.

Velothon’s reputation means big names have been attracted to their other races in the past– Velthon Berlin counts Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel among the former winners.

And, besides, by offering the chance to ride the course before the pros do you can pitch your efforts on the climbs against some of the best in the business.

Expect Team Wiggins to be among the starters again this year, alongside Britain’s first UCI ProContinental team, ONE Pro Cycling, and domestic favourites such as Raleigh, Madison-Genesis and Condor-JLT.

And one for luck… get 10% off entry!

We’ve teamed up with Velothon Wales to offer RCUK readers an exclusive 10% discount. Simply enter the promo code RCUK when you checkout on the Velothon Wales website to redeem this offer.

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