PEOPLE from across the region have welcomed the decision to bring the Tour of Britain back to North Wales this year.
Flintshire, Denbighshire and Conwy will once again play host to the world's top cyclists on September 8, when stage two of the race passes through St Asaph.
Cllr Huw Jones, Denbighshire County Council's cabinet lead member for leisure, youth and tourism, said: "We are delighted to welcome the Tour of Britain back to our beautiful county following on from the success of last year.
"Denbighshire is fast becoming known as a county of cycling excellence and major events such as the Tour of Britain serve to reinforce our commitment to providing first class facilities for the cycling community and we look forward to providing a warm welcome to the riders again this year."
Last year, spectators lined the streets of Denbighshire and Conwy to catch a glimpse of the cyclists, which included eventual winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Stage four of the 2013 race included sprints in both Ruthin and Denbigh, together with King of the Mountains sections at Groes and Llansannan.
Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, hopes that local residents show their support again this year.
Mr Jones said: "The Tour of Britain is an opportunity for us to showcase Wales' unique and beautiful landscape to the world, as well as highlighting our ability to host a variety of major events.
“Last year's huge Welsh crowds created a fantastic atmosphere and I hope that people from across Wales come out to support the event again this year."
Rhyl Cycling Club secretary Jon Harland, who is also a British Cycling coach and commissaire, praised the decision, although he said he was surprised that the Tour was returning to the region once again this year.
Harland said: “I'm surprised and pleased as I thought that might be it for a few more years, but the authorities such as the organisation, British and Welsh Cycling, the Welsh Assembly and local councils have obviously recognised that we have some of the most fantastic terrain in Europe up here, never mind the UK.”
The fourth stage of the tour passed through Denbighshire last year and it was won by the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish in Llanberis.
This year, Harland hopes that there will also be some local interest. He added: “It's good for the sport in North Wales and we do see a spin off at the Sunday Rhyl CC youth coaching sessions at Marsh Tracks.
"There may be a possibility the An Post-Chain Reaction squad could ride it as a 'wild card' entry, and if so 19-year-old Ryan Mullen from Rhos-on-Sea could be the first local Tour of Britain representative in recent years.”
Mullen recently finished fourth in the World Track Championships in Colombia in the 4000m individual pursuit, representing Ireland.
The 197km second stage will start in Knowsley and pass through Wrexham, Mold, St Asaph, Llanrwst and Conwy, before finishing in Llandudno.
The following day, riders will tackle a shorter, 150km stage starting from Newtown in
Powys and finishing atop of the famous Tumble climb outside of Abergavenny, the first ever summit finish in Wales for The Tour of Britain.
The 2014 Tour will begin in Liverpool on Sunday, September 7 and finish eight days later in central London.
This year's Tour of Britain will be the first ranked at the 2.HC level following an upgrade during the winter by the UCI. Full details of the race will be announced in the summer.
See full story in the Free Press