CYCLISTS from across the country are preparing to descend on the region today as the Tour de Gwent returns for another year.

Riders will saddle up and head out across Gwent on a selection of routes, taking in locations such as Abergavenny, Usk, Tintern, Monmouth and Caerleon. They will get under way from Caerleon Comprehensive school, led off by UK Invictus Games team army veteran captain Mark ‘Dot’ Perkins.

Organised by St David’s Hospice Care and sponsored by Whitehead Building Services, the event is expected to be even more popular this year due to the cancellation of the Velothon which was announced towards the end of last year.

There is a choice of five routes, ranging from the relatively sedate 20-mile Midi circuit up to the lung-busting Platinum route which comes in at an impressive 93 miles.

For the younger Geraint Thomas wannabees, there is also the three-mile Kids Route.

If choosing a route to take on becomes too hard a decision, ambitious riders could always take a leaf out of the book of a quartet of cyclists who are planning on riding the lot.

The team are aiming to complete each of the five routes over a 24-hour period and will set off later today and ride through the night.

Lead rider Tim Bishop, aged 46, from Caerleon, will be joined by Ian Whiffen, aged 42, from Newport, Julian McTavish, 52, from Barry, and Jason Bishop, 45, from Gloucester, on the mammoth charity ride.

Mr Bishop said: “We thought we’d do something a bit special for the fifth staging of the Whitehead Tour De Gwent as it’s such a fabulous event in aid of a really wonderful cause-St David’s Hospice Care.”

This year, riders will be sporting a specially-commissioned yellow jersey which has been designed in celebration of Tour de France-winner Geraint Thomas. Those to register for the event before the end of November last year also received a yellow snood to wear on the day.

Upon completing their chosen route (or routes), riders will be able to savour a free pint from Tiny Rebel as well as relaxing in the event village which will be set up at Caerleon Comprehensive School.

A variety of refreshments and live music await everyone who completes the ride and changing rooms will also be available.

Once again, volunteers and marshals will be out in force for the event – giving up their time to ensure it runs smoothly and safely. A team of volunteers has also been working behind the scenes to ensure that everything is prepared to make sure the event gets going without a hitch.

Sponsors for the event, which is celebrating its fifth year this year, include: Tiny Rebel, Go Compare, Kymin, Rowe & King, Nagra Kudelski Group, Parade Design, Newport Norse, Burton’s Biscuit Co, Mon Motors Group, Shear Design, UniTech, Advantage, BSS, Rexel, Capsel, Protectorcomms Ltd, Dragon Air Conditioning and Usk Valley Joinery.

For a full information pack about the routes and the event in general, visit