RISING temperatures proved no obstacle to more than 8,000 riders who took part in this year’s Velothon Wales.

The annual event yesterday saw cyclists take on a 140km route from Cardiff, travelling through Newport and Usk, before entering the Brecon Beacons National Park, then south via Pontypool and Newbridge to Caerphilly for one final climb up Caerphilly Mountain, before finishing with a fast descent towards the finish line, in the heart of Cardiff city centre.

Participants could also take part in a 125km route bypassing the Tumble hill climb in Blaenavon, or a 60km race from Usk to Cardiff.

An extra provision of 10,000 litres of water was supplied to ensure the searing heat would not get in the way of riders reaching the finish line.

The event was full of inspiring stories, not least that of Rachel Madge from Cwmbran, who was left immobile after a fall in the bathroom left her with damaged menisci in both knees.

She was powerless to stop her weight and BMI (body mass index) soaring – but cycling, and the HSBC UK Breeze Cycling programme turned out to be her saviour.

The Breeze programme helps women across the UK get in the saddle.

Her first ride around the Newport Wetlands in October 2016 seemed a million miles away from the challenging route she conquered on Sunday.

Speaking before the race she said: “Velothon Wales will be the pinnacle for me.

“I got into cycling mainly because I wanted to lose weight. I was nearly 18 stone and had a BMI of 40.3 after my injury, but since getting on my bike I am down to 12 stone 13 with a BMI of 29.2.

“It will be a mammoth test to get up Caerphilly Mountain, but I will do whatever it takes to get over it.”

People lined the streets of Usk to cheer on the riders as they passed through.

Among them was Mary Howells, who lives in the town, who said: “It’s a beautiful day so

why not come out and cheer everyone on. I always come and see Velothon.

“I wish I could do it.”

And Paul Chase, also of Usk said: “It’s been nice to be able to walk around the town without any traffic. We have two little kids with us and they have enjoyed it.

“There was a good atmosphere in the town.”

Tom Wakefield of New Inn has previously taken part in the race, but this time went out

to watch the riders go past with his sons Edward and Toby, both three, Sam, seven at the Three Salmons Hotel.

He said: “ I am a big supporter of the Velothon and I have done it for two years and am watching this year. It has been really good and it is great to see people come out and support.

“It is a great advert for Wales. I think it’s really well organised and the road closures were well advertised.”

And Noel Pritchard, of Caerleon, was watching his partner Charlotte Lee take part in the

60km race with their children Harry, three, and Isobel, seven.

He said: “It’s good to see this and good for the area. It’s nice and busy and the atmosphere has been good.”

And Hannah Bourne, of Usk, said: “It’s a lovely community event and so many locals are

participation. It’s lovely to appreciate the hard work that the cyclists put in.”

The event was organised by Run 4 Wales. Chief executive

Matt Newman said: “Velothon Wales has evolved over the years to become an unmissable event on the Welsh sporting calendar.

“Even with the sun beating down, the riders, volunteers and organisers all had smiles

on their faces after a truly unique cycling experience on the closed roads of South Wales.

“Local communities turned out in their droves once again to cheer on our amateur riders

to make the 2018 instalment a truly unforgettable event.

“The event would not be possible without the support of Velothon Series owners Ironman,

the five local authorities along the route and funding partners Welsh Government/

Visit Wales.