AROUND 700 cyclists are taking to the roads of Gwent today for the annual St David's Hospice Care Tour De Gwent.

The fundraising event, now in its fourth year, has become a popular one, and offers six routes of varying lengths and difficulty, taking in much of Gwent.

The start for the first of the routes is at 7.30am at Caerleon comprehensive school.

Organisers say that so far there have more than 650 entries - around 100 more than last year - and more people have been entering this morning.

Sponsored by Whitehead Building Services, the Tour De Gwent is designed to appeal to cyclists of all ages and abilities.

There are six routes, headed by a 93-mile platinum route for hardcore cyclists, taking in some tough climbs with a total height of 7,352 feet.

But for those who do not fancy taking on such heights, there are five others to choose from - a 78-mile gold route; a 52-mile silver route; a 35-mile bronze route; a 20-mile midi route; and a three-mile kids' route.

The latter, which takes place along the cycle path from the school, is free to enter for children. The route is marshalled and all children must be accompanied.

All routes begin in Caerleon through the morning, with the town's comprehensive school the base for this year's start and finish.

Parking this year has been made available at the nearby St Cadoc's Hospital.

Spectators too, are encouraged to make a day of it, either at the school, or by venturing out to a suitable vantage point on the route of their choice.

The event raises vital funds for St David’s Hospice Care, which provides palliative and end-of-life care for thousands of people in Newport, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and south and mid Powys.

Funding supports clinical nurse specialists in palliative care, welfare rights advisors, Unicorn - the bereavement support service for children, complementary therapy outreach clinics, a family support team, the recently-opened 15 room inpatient unit in Newport, hospice at home nurses, and four day hospices.

For more information on the Tour de Gwent, visit