With plenty of action this summer beyond the World Cup, Amy Ludford and Joel Day have the lowdown on the most exciting sporting events coming up.
Prepare yourself for road closures and dodgy routes: Velothon Wales is set to get underway in July, taking in large swathes of roads across south-east Wales. This year’s Velothon is different to 2017’s, as participants now have a choice of routes to take. Starting at Usk, some riders will take in the mountainous terrain of Abergavenny, while others will opt for the flatter route straight towards Pontypool. The course takes riders through the small Welsh villages of Newbridge and Ystrad Mynach until it reaches Caerphilly mountain, where an uphill final third push sends them down into Cardiff and across the finish line.
Usk, Sun 8 July. Entry: £45-£69 (free to spectate). Info: www.velothon.com
FAN-DANCE IN BRECON BEACONS
If you’ve ever thought “I’d really like to hike up the highest mountain in south Wales with my own body weight strapped to my back in an attempt to prove myself SAS-worthy”, then look no further than the Fan-Dance challenge. The Fan-Dance is a primeval race against nature that wants you to get rid of the day-to-day worries of mortgages and smartphones, and replace them for steep inclines, dirt tracks, and 24km of open country. In what was an SAS selection route for over 60 years, the Fan-Dance now welcomes plucky entrants of all shapes and sizes. The prize? A customised medal and an inflated sense of self-worth.
Pen-y-Fan, Sat 7 + Sun 8 July. Admission: £45-£74.99. Info: www.thefandancerace.com
UEFA AWARDS WALES GRASSROOTS CHARTER
Since their campaign at Euro 2016 ended at the semi-final stage, leaving the country not so much dispirited as deeply proud, the Welsh FA has made huge steps towards better football for a country that hadn’t qualified for a major competition in nearly 50 years. Continuing this trend, UEFA recently awarded Wales, along with footballing giants like Germany and the Netherlands, with its Grassroots Charter Gold Standard. Wales is finally getting the recognition it deserves in providing footballing excellence and initiative programmes: this new generation laying the foundations for what could be an exciting footballing future. And, who knows, we might even qualify for Euro 2020 and Qatar 2022.
SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX
The dirt is out at the Principality for the fifth round of the 2018 Speedway Grand Prix, as the international Supercross event returns to the capital for its 18th year of high-speed racing. Sixteen riders face off over 20 heats, each four riders and four laps apiece. Two semi-finals reduce the top eight down to the final four, who then go head-to-head in the final to crown the event winner.
With a fixed gear and no brakes, the bikes are raced and controlled entirely by the rider at the helm – some feat when they exceed speeds of 70 mph. Two Brits are on the permanent riders’ line-up this year. No.111 Craig Cook has unfortunately had no real success at the speedway and has appeared in a handful of races in previous years, though the home crowd and a good cheer of encouragement could certainly go a long way in changing that. 2013 and 2015 Champion Tai Woffinden is a bona fide veteran in pursuit of his third title, so be sure to cheer for No.108 as he fends off last year’s champion, Jason Doyle. High speed, high energy, guaranteed entertainment.
Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Sat 21 July. Tickets: from £19. Info: 0844 2491999 / www.principalitystadium.wales