A full field of 80 cyclists has signed up for a new three day elite cycling race through the Shropshire countryside, which includes a day of racing at RAF Shawbury to celebrate the RAF 100 anniversary.
The Giro Del Mon, which has replaced the Shrewsbury Grand Prix for 2018, will take place from May 26-28, over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The event, which is hosted by Shrewsbury based Rhino Velo Race Team and run by Chris Pook of Estate Agents Cooper Green Pooks and Ben Lawrence, of Beaumont Lawrence Chartered Insurance Brokers, is made up of five stages over three days.
The main event is the Giro Del Mon, supported by Pro Vision Clothing, founded by former UK road race champion Steve Joughin, is a National B level stage race. There is also a ‘Support Race’ for third and fourth category riders, held over three stages on May 26 and 27.
Mr Pook, who is also taking part in the race, said: “We are thrilled by the level of interest so far.
“The Elite race is at full capacity and the Support race is filling up, so riders wanting to take part really do need to sign up soon.
“We hope lots of spectators will come out and cheer the riders on and appreciate the beautiful Shropshire countryside at the same time.”
Mr Pook said it was fantastic to be able to mark the RAF 100 celebrations during the race.
He said: “My grandfather served for many years in the RAF and latterly in his career was the Chief Instructor at RAF Shawbury.
“The RAF is an organisation close to the hearts of many people in the UK and a lot of the riders in the event will have personal connections to it.
“It is fantastic that RAF Shawbury has agreed to close the airfield for our riders on May 27 and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to ride on a completely closed, spacious and (hopefully) windy circuit.”
Station Commander, Group Captain Chuck Norris said: “I am thrilled that the organisers of the Giro Del Mon have chosen to hold a leg of their event at RAF Shawbury in support of the RAF 100 Appeal.
“This event is a unique opportunity to commemorate and celebrate the RAF’s 100 year history as well as inspiring future generations through recognition of the RAF’s legacy.
“We look forward to welcoming the riders to RAF Shawbury for a great day of cycling.”
On the Saturday, riders will ‘sign on’ at Minsterley Parish Hall from 8am.
The Elite event will begin at 9.30am with a Team Time Trial up Hope Valley, followed in the afternoon at 2pm with a road race in the Minsterley, Westbury and Worthen area.
The support race will begin at 11.15am and follow the same route as the Elite road stage.
On the Sunday, riders will be at RAF Shawbury from 8am with an Individual Time Trial for both the Elite race and the Support race involving a lap of the airfield. Following that, there will be two separate ‘Kermesse’ races, a punchy style of racing popular on the flat and windy terrain in Belgium. The Support race will go first at Midday followed by the Elite race at 1pm.
On Bank Holiday Monday, riders will return to Minsterley Parish Hall from 8.30am for the final stage of the Elite race.
Starting at 10am, it will take in four laps of a 20 mile course around (and over) the Stiperstones with the finish line located at the top of the Stiperstones (as ascended from Bridges).
Rhino Velo Racing is going to enter two teams of four riders in the event with the aim of winning both stages and hopefully the overall.
The team composition will be announced close to the event to allow riders to hone their form over the coming fortnight or so.
Mr Lawrence, who will be supporting the riders during the event, said: “This will be a really challenging three days of racing. It has attracted teams from all over the UK and we are delighted by the uptake.
“Rhino Velo has a big passion for stage racing and we wanted to bring the exciting event to Shropshire.”
To enter the Giro Del Mon, visit www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/172665/Giro-Del-Mon