5 of the best cycling routes in Wales, after Geraint Thomas' Tour de France win

30th Jul 18 | Lifestyle

Take on the hilly Welsh countryside and stunning coastline on two wheels.

Mawddach Estuary from the Precipice Walk

For the first time ever, a Welshman has taken the Tour de France title. It was a special moment for Wales and Welsh cycling as Geraint Thomas somewhat unexpectedly beat favourite Chris Froome to ride down the Champs-Élysées in the coveted yellow jersey.

Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, holds the flag of Wales during the 21st and last stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Houilles and Paris Champs-Elysees,
Geraint Thomas is a popular winner (Marco Bertorello/AP)

So, has this year’s epic 20-stage Grand Tour made you want to jump on a bike yourself? The winner’s home country is popular with cycling enthusiasts and an excellent place to travel on two wheels – with its beautiful coastal and mountain scenery, luscious national parks and tough hills to climb.

Here are some (mostly difficult) cycle routes that will definitely hurt your legs but reward you with incredible views.

1. Bwlch and the Rhigos

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There are three main approaches to the village of Bwlch and the Rhigos mountain in the Brecon Beacons and they’re seen as somewhat of a rite of passage by cyclists in the area. The climb from Hirwaun is as close to the famous Alpe d’Huez as you’ll get in south Wales, as the three-mile climb curves around one side of the mountain, with hairpin turns towards the summit. Alternatively climb from Nant y moel or Cymmer.

2. The heritage coast

If you’d rather have views of the sea instead of green hills, this ride takes in some of the beautiful sites of the Vale of Glamorgan – just west of Thomas’ hometown Cardiff. For the best known 6.8 mile route, start at Ogmore Castle and take the coastal roads to Dunraven Bay.

3. The Ironman route in Pembrokeshire

As the Ironman competition goes, the Welsh version is one of the toughest you can do. The triathlon (a 2.4-mile sea swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile run in one go) takes athletes through the hilly Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, finishing in Tenby – but the gruelling cycle is a famous route in itself. One particular climb in Saundersfoot, St Brides Hill, is known locally as Heartbreak Hill because it takes out even the most hardened of athletes and decides the ‘King of the Mountain’ title in both the Ironman and Long Course Weekend races. The preceding Wiseman’s Bridge Hill is considered by some to be even tougher.

4. The Mawddach Trail

This route from the grey stone town of Dolgellau in Snowdonia National Park follows an old railway line past the Cadair Idris mountain, and along the Mawddach Estuary, to the beautiful seaside town of Barmouth, is a much easier option. The 9-mile route has been dubbed one of the best short cycle rides in Wales and is mostly dust paths before it reaches roads in Barmouth, so take a mountain bike or hybrid.

5. Lon Las Cymru

If you want a challenge and have two to three days, this route from Holyhead in north Wales, to either Cardiff or Chepstow runs 250 miles down the length of the country. It’s one of the toughest long distance routes on the National Cycle Network, passing through two national parks and three mountain ranges. Starting in rural Anglesey, highlights include the Coed-y-Brenin Forest, the Wye Valley and the Gospel Pass through the Black Mountains, with many castles and cathedrals along the way.

© Press Association 2018