Yes, it’s back. After blazing the seven-day UK stage race trail in 2006 and passing the baton (what use are metaphors if you can’t mix them?) to Scotland in 2007, TransWales 2008 will see 300 riders tackle 344 miles and a not-insubstantial 50,840 feet of climbing on their way from Builth Wells to, er, Builth Wells. Obviously they’ll be visiting quite a few other places on the way.
Merida Bikes has signed up once again as title sponsor. “Merida is very proud to be title sponsors of the TransWales event this year,” says Chris Carter from Merida Bikes. “We’ve backed the event from it’s inception in 2006, as it felt like a natural progression from the Merida Bikes MTB Marathon Series, and something new and different for the UK. Not even we could have foreseen the extent of the appeal of mountain bike stage racing.”
There’s also a host of other sponsors, with categories being supported by Buff Headwear (open female category sponsor) Gore Bike Wear (open male category sponsor), Ergon (vets category sponsor), USE (solo category sponsor), High5 (mixed category sponsor) and Niner Bikes (single speed category sponsor). Additional sponsors include Schwalbe Tyres, Summit Cycles and Exposure Lights MaXx.
The general format of the event is unchanged, with teams of two or solo riders tackling daily “linking” stages of between 40-80km in length that are untimed but have a time limit. Come in late and penalty seconds will be added to the timed “special stages”. As always, the special stages are optional – you can, if you like, simply treat the whole thing as a fully-supported week-long MTB tour of Wales rather than any sort of race, or just treat the special stages as a fun singletrack fix.
Course designer John Lloyd has completely reworked the course for 2008. It visits areas untouched by the 2006 event, including trails to the south and south west of Builth Wells and also in Brechfa Forest. Sections that did appear in 2006 are likely to run in the opposite direction in 2008, which should lend them a fascinating new twist. More details are on the event website.
Entries are strictly limited to 300 riders, and about 80% of the places have been taken, so don’t hang about. Head to www.mtbtransuk.co.uk for everything you need to know and those all-important entry forms.