RISING Gwent cycle star Zach Bridges is gearing up to take part in the gruelling Whitehead Tour De Gwent on Sunday, April 15.

Zach, aged 17, a pupil at Newport’s Rougemont School, will lead riders out and will taking part in this year’s charity bike ride, which is once again being sponsored by Newport-based firm Whitehead Building Services.

Lead sponsor and keen cyclist Rhys Morton, of Whitehead Building Services, said: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome rising Gwent and GB cycling star Zach to join us on the ride this year.”

Zach is currently studying for his A levels and combines his studies with Great Britain training camps.

He is fast making a name for himself in the world of cycling.

When not on GB duties, Zach is part of the nine man 'track and road - endurance' squad of GB Junior Academy riders, he rides for Ribble Pro Cycling as part of their junior development squad.

Zach, who often trains at Newport’s Velodrome, said: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the Tour De Gwent and riding with top athletes through some great countryside while helping to raise the profile of St David’s Hospice Care.”

His mum Sandy said: “Hospice care is something we believe in passionately. One of Zach's biggest fans, early on, was his grandad - an avid sportsman and sports fan himself. Unfortunately in 2013 he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and a year later his life ended.

“As a family we felt incredibly fortunate that the last few weeks of his life were spent in the care of a hospice specialist palliative care team. That care is how it should be for everybody facing that unthinkable situation - losing somebody, much loved, far sooner than expected.

“Now that Zach is progressing on the path that he is, if through his passion of cycling he can help to raise the profile and raise funds linked to hospice care, then that's a good thing. With St David's being the local facility in this area being involved just makes sense.

“One of Zach's big aspirations is to compete next year in the World Junior Time trial event as part of the World Road cycling championships. It's been some considerable time since the event has been hosted in the UK, but next year Yorkshire has been selected to host the event. Yorkshire is where Zach's grandad lived, so it all seems rather fitting.”

Event organiser Franca Nigro, of St David’s Hospice Care, said: “It’s great that Zach has agreed to take part in the Whitehead Tour De Gwent. His presence will really help boost the profile not just of this important annual cycling event but also the profile of St David’s Hospice Care.

Other local businesses which have come forward to sponsor the event are: Tiny Rebel, EOS Architects, Go Compare, Mon Motors, Advantage Accountancy, Parade graphic designers, MCL Logistics, Kymin, The Pod, Capsel, Dragon Air Conditioning, BSS, Rowe and King, Rexel and Newport Social Cycling.

The Tour de Gwent starts and finishes at Caerleon School. It sees riders tackle one of six routes ranging from three miles for children to 93 miles for hardened riders, on roads and lanes in Newport, Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

The challenge is to complete your chosen course within 10 hours and arrive back at the finish village at Caerleon School in time to enjoy the BBQ, refreshments, live music, entertainment and stalls.

The minimum age for entrants is 16-years for the platinum, gold and silver routes with minimum age of 14 for the bronze and midi route. The entry fee is £55 or £30, depending on route chosen with free entry for the kids’ three mile route.

The entry price includes an exclusive event cycling ‘sport cut’ jersey, route maps, water and feeding stations, safety bike marshals and first aid cover. Online entry has now closed but people can turn up and sign up on the day.

For more details of the route and entry costs please visit www.tourdegwent.org or call 01633 851051 and ask for Franca Nigro.

If you would like to follow Zach Bridge's progression check out his cycling instagram page @zachbridges45.