Top cyclists on show for start of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour from Framlingham to Southwold
Some of the country’s top cyclists will be on show today for the first stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, described as “the most prestigious stage race of the season”, which sets off from Framlingham and ends in Southwold.
It will encompass a huge swathe of east Suffolk’s towns, villages and the countryside on the 130km route which runs south from the starter’s gun down to Wickham Market and through Ipswich and the waterfront and then northwards to Stowmarket, and onto Debenham, Stradbroke and Halesworth before the riders cross the finishing line at the coastal resort.
Some of the top athletes are due to take part including defending champion Kasia Niewiadoma, British stars Hannah and Alice Barnesa, Lisa Brennauer, 2015 winner Marianne Vos, six riders who have held the World Road Race Champions rainbow jerseys including reigning champion Chantal Blaak, plus a raft of Olympic, Commonwealth and National Champions.
In total 102 riders from 17 teams will be featured with athletes from 22 different nations.
The race, part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, gets underway from Framlingham, made famous by local boy Ed Sheeran’s hit ‘Castle on the Hill’, at 10.30am and is due to finish just before 2.15pm.
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Five days later the event culminates with a first ever visit to Wales, on Sunday.
And cycling enthusiasts are being given the chance to ride on the finishing straight of the tour.
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Starting at noon, competitors will battle it out to be the fastest rider to complete the 100m uphill sprint section on North Parade.
Anyone wishing to take part should meet at 11.30am at the Pier Café.
Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans is again predicting an open and exciting race, describing the OVOEnergy Women’s Tour as “the most prestigious stage race of the season.”
Defending champion Kasia Niewiadoma said: “I love all of the fans along the roadside and I have amazing memories from last year. I’m coming into this race with no pressure and no expectations on myself. It will be pure racing for the team. At the moment, I feel happy and complete on my bike and that’s all that matters.
“I saw the stage profiles and I can say that they are going to hurt. It’s a demanding and unpredictable race and I love this. I have decided to race again because of these hard stages which I believe will help me to get into better shape before the Giro Rosa.”
Meanwhile, race director Mick Bennett said: “Fans can look forward to cheering on an amazing, world-class field of riders from which it is very hard to pick a favourite for victory such is the quality of names present.
“Whoever does win the OVO Energy Green Jersey this year will have definitely earnt it, with tough climbs throughout the route from Stage Two onwards, while I am sure the unpredictable nature of the British weather may also play a part.”
Subsequent stages will take the race to Northamptonshire, on Thursday, Warwickshire on Friday, and Worcestershire on Saturday before the final stage from Dolgellau to Colwyn Bay on the North Wales coast, via Snowdonia.
A one-hour highlights programme of every stage will be broadcast daily on ITV4 and available on demand via the ITV Hub.
If you’re at the race today, please send us your pictures – we’d love to see them! Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour route and estimated time of arrival (38mph)
Market Hill, Framlingham 10.30am
The Street, Hacheston 10.45am
Lower Hacheston 10.48am
Wickham Market 10.49am
Little Bealings 11.09am
Great Blakenham 11.45am
(Sprint 1) Needham 12.01pm
Middlewood Green 12.14pm
Earl Soham 12.40pm
(Sprint two) Framlingham 12.49pm
Ubbeston Green 1.29pm
(Finish) Southwold 2.09pm