CARMARTHEN cyclist Manon Lloyd is currently taking part in the Women’s Tour, which will reach its grand finale in Carmarthenshire on Saturday, June 15.
The tour started on Monday, June 10, with Manon crossing the line in 8oth place, but only 14 seconds behind the first stage winner.
The second stage will see riders around the Kent Cyclopark. Riders will also pass through Blenheim Palace, Warwick and Llandrindod Wells before heading to Carmarthenshire.
Manon, from Carmarthen, is hoping the strength of a home crowd will spur her on as she competes against the best female cyclists in the world as part of her team Drops.
A former member of Towy Riders, the 22-year-old started her track racing career on the historic Carmarthen Velodrome, where she will cross the line to start Stage Six of the UK’s biggest road race.
Dubbed one of the most challenging stages of the race, the 96 cyclists will compete against each other in a series of sprints and climbs taking in the breath-taking Black Mountains, and descending through the Amman and Gwendraeth Valleys before reaching the finishing line at Pembrey Country Park.
Thousands of people are expected to come out and line the route to cheer on the cyclists and give them and our visitors a warm Carmarthenshire welcome.
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, hopes the crowds will make their voices heard to help Manon make the most of her home advantage.
“This will be a very special race for Manon,” he said. “She has cycled all over the world competing for Great Britain, and to be selected by her team to race the Women’s Tour is just fantastic.
“Manon is proud of her roots in Carmarthenshire, her family live and farm near Kidwelly, and she always speaks fondly of her time with Towy Riders at our great Velodrome in Carmarthen.
“I know she’s taken advantage of coming home to train and familiarise herself with the Stage Six route which takes in some of our most wonderful scenery and goes through many of our communities.
“I really hope people will come out to cheer her on.”
Although helping her team win the Women’s Tour will be a challenge for Manon, she’s no stranger to taking the winner’s podium.
In 2014 she took first place in the team pursuit and points race at the European Junior Track Championships.
In 2016 she took two golds with her team (Madison) at the UCI Track World Cup, followed by a first in the team pursuit at the European U23 Track Championships, and bronze in another team pursuit at the European Track Championships.
In 2017 she took a mixture of third, second and third place positions, as well as silver and bronze medals, at European, National and World Track Championships.
In 2018 she was part of Team GB for the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast.
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour comes to Carmarthenshire for the first time, hot on the heels of the county’s successful hosting of the men’s Tour of Britain race last September.
The full route and information about road closures, local events and ways to get involved, can be found on the council’s websitewww.carmarthenshire.gov.wales.
Follow updates on social media using #OVOWT #CycleCarms and lend your support to Manon using #TeamManon on @CarmsCouncil and @manonlloyd96