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Gruelling day in the saddle on Stage 5 of Women’s Tour in Carmarthenshire

ANYONE who has ever ridden a bicycle in Carmarthenshire will know the ups and downs that involves. The landscape goes from billiard table flat to Everest like hills sans Sherpas to help with the struggle. 

O.K. Everest like may be a spoke too far but the hills in Carmarthenshire are tough especially if the ride is 106.6km 

The battle to succeed Dutch rider Demi Vollering as Women’s Tour champion could be decided as the race returns to the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire for the second time in three editions on stage five. While riders will roll out from sea level at Pembrey Country Park, one of Wales’s top visitor attractions and host of the 2019 finale, the day’s finish line comes atop the Black Mountain near Llangadog.

It is the second hill-top finish in Women’s Tour history and one of the toughest routes measuring 7.2 kilometres in length, with the Black Mountain averaging a gradient of 5.3% and ramping up to 21% in places. The route was previously tackled during the final stage of the 2019 race when British rider Hannah Barnes (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) climbed it the fastest in a time of 20:50.

A handful of people lined Meinciau hill to watch the women whizz by preceded and followed by an enormous entourage of vehicles. It was a rolling road block which looked effective even if the odd motorist and postman decided it was a Sunday drive and work as usual before police intervened.

There were two large bunches on the Meinciau climb but the riders began to spread out by the time they reached the top of the Crwbin climb. The riders already looked tired with a gruelling amount of riding still to come. The rain stayed off although the blustery wind would not have helped those left isolated. 

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Pics. Noah Evans

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