TRADERS in Abergavenny are gearing up for a busy weekend as the annual Festival of Cycling takes over the town.
Onlookers are expected to crowd the roads as Tour-de-France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins pedals through, along with other stars Mark Cavendish and gold medallists from the 2012 Olympic Games.
Shops in the town are hoping for the slice of the action, believing that increased footfall will be good for trade despite the main road through town being closed.
Vanessa Rowley, from Fortysix gift shop, said they had arranged a special window display to mark the festival. “We’re expecting it to be good for business. Lots of the shop windows are making the most of it. We have bicycle related goodies like bike wheel chopping boards, cyclist cufflinks and an old fashioned headlamp from a bike polished up. It’s like when the food festival was on; we tended to put more of our cookware in the windows. It is chaos, but at the same time it’s a good atmosphere.”
Fellow trader Miles Preece, 52, from M&D Cycles, said: “Town will be buzzing with people and they are all going to need to eat and drink. I think people are realising the benefits of cycling as a whole, for fitness and just to get out and see everything. It’s a great thing to have the cycling festival; hopefully we’ll be having it for years to come. People are realising that Abergavenny is the centre for cycling in Wales – it’s not far off the centre for cycling in the whole UK. Cycling shops are not necessarily going to benefit from the day itself but we have noticed an upturn in sales, people bringing bikes out of retirement from sheds and things.”
The Angel Hotel has also benefitted from the event, with some riders staying at the hotel. Assistant to the general manager Emily Heath, 25, said: “For us we have got a lot of cyclists staying here, so we have got some trade from it, definitely. We have got a cycling festival dinner on Saturday night for 120 people in the ballroom. I think it’s for riders and organisers. Normally the streets are lined with people. Everyone seems to be getting excited.”
Lisa Atkins, 43, from Cariad Wales gift shop, said: “I suppose any road closure will affect business but I’d say the festival will be a good thing. It will bring people into the town.”
The festival runs until Sunday when it will culminate with the Men and Women’s British Cycling National Road Race Championships.