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Gallery: Cycling fans get rare treat as they meet riders from The Women’s Tour

PUBLISHED: 17:41 11 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:41 11 May 2014

The start of Women's tour of Britain Stage 5. Harwich 
Matrix

The start of Women's tour of Britain Stage 5. Harwich Matrix

Top name cyclists mingled with the crowds in Essex today before riding out on the fifth and final stage of the first ever Women’s Tour of Britain.

The start of Women's tour of Britain Stage 5. Harwich 
The start of Women's tour of Britain Stage 5. Harwich

The fifth stage began in Dovercourt at 10am , and a huge number of spectators lined the beginning of the route to watch the cyclists sign on at the podium before the official start.

Racing proper got underway further along the route at Parkeston.

The assembled crowds, bolstered by cyclists taking part in the 21st annual Tour de Tendring fun cycle ride which set off 30 minutes behind the professional race, were the first to hear leading British rider Lizzie Armitstead was retiring from the race due to illness.

Peter Hodges, spokesman for the race organisers, said: “The starts are nice, a bit more relaxed, and people can actually see and speak to the riders, it is all open to the public.

“It has been encouraging to hear from the advance team or race organisers of crowds right along the route, though it is what we have come to expect of this area where people always turn out in support.”

Youngsters from Chase Lane Primary School had the chance to ride out over the start line ahead of the professionals.

Councillor Fred Nicholls, vice-chairman of Tendring District Council, said: “It is absolutely brilliant this has come to Tendring and put us on the map. The exposure we have had as a result can only be good, it has been excellent so far.

“The amount of people coming out in support both in Clacton at the end of stage three, here today, and along the route has been incredible.”

With eight games to go, Ipswich Town are still not safe from relegation to League One, following a tough season in the Championship, and lost 3-1 at Cardiff City at the weekend.

Ipswich may have broken out of their run of straight draws – but a 3-1 defeat isn’t really much to shout about.

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith has told a newspaper in New Zealand that he is 100% committed to playing for the national team, ahead of the All Whites’ World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.

Mick McCarthy says his managerial record is the reason for his longevity at Portman Road, not owner Marcus Evans’ perceived patience with his managers.

Ipswich Town will not be backtracking on their decision to raise the price of season tickets, despite a huge outcry from supporters.

Loan duo Dominic Samuel and Jonny Williams made timely injury comebacks last night as a strong Ipswich Town Under-23 side drew 1-1 with Crewe at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town have suffered a double injury blow with the news that forward duo David McGoldrick and Tom Lawrence have had to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland and Wales squads respectively.

Ipswich Town fan and football reporter WILL RIDGARD gives his view on the controversy surrounding the increase in season ticket prices at Portman Road...

It’s the start of a fortnight for fans to fester on Ipswich Town’s current state of affairs – and we want to hear from you.

Ipswich Town have finally recorded a result which is not a draw.

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