Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France is a “real Tour experience” says Team Sky’s Luke Rowe

26th May 2017

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France takes place on 11 June 2017, bringing the magic of Le Tour to South Wales. The event gives cyclists the chance to experience alpine-like riding through stunning scenery, with four route distances on offer from the Macmillan 100km through to the 305km Dragon Devil.  Luke Rowe, Team Sky rider and local Welsh lad, describes how the climbs of the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales route emulate those he experienced on some of the challenging mountain stages during Le Tour de France.

“I grew up just a few miles from here in Cardiff, and took some of my first rides on these roads so I’m definitely familiar with how tough they can be! With the long, steady climbs and sweeping descents, Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales reminds me of one of the Tour’s challenging Alpine stages. Four classified climbs on the Gran Fondo route is no easy task, and the first two – Blwch and Rhigos – which occur in the initial 50km can really take it out of you, with their long, steady gradients. That’s before you even consider the Devil’s Elbow or Black Mountain, which loom in the second part of the route!”

As the UK’s most prestigious sportive, Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales aims to create a Tour de France experience for riders, from the feed stations stocked with French savoury food to the Tour de France style podium at the finish.  On some of the more challenging climbs, cheer points will provide an extra boost to cyclists, including encouragement from iconic Tour figure Didi the Devil on the 20% gradients of the Devil’s Elbow. This year will be the first time that amateur cyclists can ride past Didi as he jumps up and down and bellows support, an experience that, up to now, has been reserved for the professionals.

“I remember tackling Alpe-D’Huez in the 2015 Tour with the yells of the crowd ringing in my ears and Didi in his red devil costume jumping up and down alongside, it’s an unforgettable experience. The noisy crowds of fans and steel drums on those hills will create such a memorable Tour atmosphere and is definitely something that you can’t get on any other sportive.”

Riders will also have the opportunity to be crowned King or Queen of the Mountain with a timed closed-road climb on the Devil’s Elbow. The winners will each receive a polka dot jersey signed by Chris Froome, free entry into the following month’s L’Etape du Tour, including accommodation and bike hire, and VIP Champs Elysees passes for the final stage of the 2017 Tour de France. Along with motorcycle marshalling, electronic chip timing and a sweep vehicle, Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales brings together Wales’ incredible nature and landscapes with the professionalism and iconic experience of Le Tour de France.

“The Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales really is as close as you’re going to get to Le Tour de France as an amateur cyclist – it has it all: beautiful scenery, epic climbs and a fantastic finish line experience. I’m almost jealous I’m not taking part!”

Riders can get the VIP experience on the day by joining Team Macmillan and riding for people living with cancer. Fundraisers will have access to the charity marquee with free post-ride massages, and resfreshments before and after the ride, as well as a free cycling jersey for those who raise over £200.

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France returns on Sunday 11 June 2017, offering 4 spectacular routes. Extremely limited spaces are available, visit www.letapeuk.co.uk/wales/letape-wales/ for more information.