Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish could all be set to race in Monmouthshire
CYCLING legends Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish could all be competing on the roads of Monmouthshire next year – just before the start of the 2014 Tour de France – after the county landed a sensational triple national championship cycling coup.
The county has won a hard-fought bid to land the UK's most prestigious cycling road race with Cavendish set to defend his British National Road Race Championships title.
Cycling fans have the mouth-watering prospect of seeing the last two winners of the Tour de France, Sir Bradley and Froome, ride head-to-head in Gwent.
And the amazing success, won with the support of Monmouthshire County Council, will also see the Women's Road Race Championships and the British Men's Elite Time Trial Championships being run during the week of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling.
Sir Bradley, who won the Tour de France in 2012, and this year's winner of the greatest bike race of them all, Froome, are expected to spearhead the entry list for the Elite Men's National Road Race Championships in June next year.
Alongside them should be the cream of British cycling including global superstar Cavendish, a multi-stage winner of Le Tour, and the defending champion of the National men's title, having won in Glasgow last June, and London Olympic stars like Wales' own Geraint Thomas.
The cream of Team Sky are likely to be riding during the week as it will be the last big event before the 2014 Tour de France's Grand Departure in Yorkshire a week later.
Also expected to race will be the last two winners of the title when it was ridden in Monmouthshire – Scotland's David Millar, who triumphed in 2007, and Kristian House, from Kent, who took the title in 2009.
And if that was not enough, the bid has also secured the Women's Elite Road Race Championships and the Men's Elite Time Trial Championships.
They are all magnificent triumphs for Monmouthshire and cycling in Wales.
And the fact that this will be the third time in just seven years that Abergavenny has hosted British Cycling's premier domestic events – after staging the Elite Men's Championships in 2007 and 2009 – emphasises how enormous the sport has become in Wales.
Lizzie Armistead, a silver medalist in the London Olympic Games road race, will defend her women's title after triumphing over the Commonwealth Games course in Glasgow this year.
Bill Owen, the former president of Welsh Cycling and organiser of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, who, along with Monmouthshire Council, masterminded the successful bid to bring the event to South Wales.
Owen said: “I am delighted that we are able to put together this incredible event and stage the National Championships in both the men's and women's road race plus the Time Trial disciplines.
“When we staged the event in 2009, which saw us host the big three road events – the junior, women's and men's road races – for the first time in British Cycling history, I did not believe anything could top that.
“But this is an amazing achievement for us all and it is down to the backing of Monmouthshire County Council and their vision for cycling in South East Wales that we were able to bid for this in the first place.
“The sport has grown immeasurably since we brought Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and the other great British riders to Abergavenny and Monmouthshire four years ago. Now we can host everyone again and look forward to the sort of crowds that watched this year's race in Glasgow.
“And to also have the Women's Road Race Championships and the National Time Trial Championships included in our winning bid is simply unbelievable.
“Back in 2009, we saw crowds lining the iconic Tumble Mountain climb that made it look like a stage of the Tour de France.
"That was before Bradley and Chris won the Tour titles. So we can only guess on how many thousands of people will turn Monmouthshire into a cycling Mecca over the course of the week that the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling will take place.”
Last year, over 35,000 people witnessed Cavendish win the National Championships jersey over the course to be used at the 2014 Commonwealth Games course.
And, with events on all week, the Festival should bring similar numbers to Monmouthshire and beyond.
Monmouthshire Council's cabinet member with responsibility for economic development, Bob Greenland, said: “Monmouthshire council recognise the economic benefits that major events can bring to our county.
“The high profile that British Cycling has brought to the sport since the great successes of last year's Olympics is plain to see.
"It‘s incredibly exciting that we have the opportunity to work with British Cycling and host next year’s prestigious National Road Championships.
“The icing on the cake is that next year’s event directly precedes Tour de France 2014 which will start in Yorkshire.
"That means we can expect big name competitors at the championships as they train for Le Tour. The contribution that Monmouthshire is making to bringing elite sport to Wales is second to none.”
Councillor Geoff Burrows, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure services, added: “Monmouthshire County Council recognises the enormous benefits that cycling can bring to the county. We want everyone in the county to have the opportunity to improve their health and fitness. Cycling is the perfect sport for this.”
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