Cyclists prepare for second day of racing as stage two of The Women’s Tour launches in Braintree

The Women's Tour racing through Stowmarket at midday yesterday.

The Women's Tour racing through Stowmarket at midday yesterday. - Credit:

Cycling fans in Essex and Suffolk have another chance to get a taste of the action today as Stage Two pedals its way through the two counties.

The Aviva Women's Tour in Braintree

The Aviva Women's Tour in Braintree - Credit: Archant

The action started in Braintree at 10am, though racing proper does not begin until 15 minutes later when the flag drops – and spectators could see an early breakaway.

Yesterday’s winner Lizzie Armitstead was not racing after a spectacular fall at the finish line in Aldeburgh.

Both sprinters and climbers will be keen to be at the front of today’s race with Queen of the Mountain points available on Finch Hill, Sudbury, and Tenpenny Hill, Thorrington, while there are sprint points in Kirby-le-Soken and Great Bentley.

However, with no long climbs in the second half of the 85.8-mile race it is likely any splinter group will be reeled in before the race finish on Clacton seafront to allow the lead rider on each team a chance to break for victory – or at least not lose any time.

Lizzie Armitstead before the accident

Lizzie Armitstead before the accident - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Speaking from Braintree this morning, reporter Natalie Sadler described the electric atmosphere.

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She said: “Crowds are milling around awaiting the arrival of the cyclists in Braintree this morning. The police outriders have already passed, and upbeat music is playing out creating an air of excitement.

“Shops opened early to make the most of the passing trade. Riders will start at 10am but racing proper a short while later.”

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It is hoped crowds will line the route, particularly at the climb and sprint points as well as the stage start and finish.

Jo Beavis, Braintree district councillor for communities, said: “Since we first heard the organisers wanted to bring the Women’s Tour to the district we’ve been working hard to make sure this will be a day to remember for everyone.

“This event will have its own legacy, particularly in promoting women’s sport.

“It really is a great showcase for cycling and the district.”

To mark the occasion the council is hosting a Pedal in the Park free family festival on Saturday in Weavers Park.

Mick Skeels, Tendring district councillor for leisure and events, added: “It is really exciting to have such a significant sporting event returning to Tendring this year and I am sure the women will get another warm reception.

“People will get the chance to see the world’s top female cyclists on the own doorstep and we will all be hoping for good weather.

“The competitors were overwhelmed by the support they received for the inaugural tour in 2014 and we want more of the same again.”

School children, cycling enthusiasts and families were all taking up their positions along the route now as the start drew closer.

There is much talk of the disappointment that Lizzie Armitstead is not riding.

All of the teams were presented on stage and Laura Trott got the biggest cheer by far.

Rebecca Hammond of Maldon Cycling Club said: “When I started cycling nine years ago it wasn’t very popular and there were barely any women taking part but in the last few years it has exploded.

“In Europe women’s cycling is huge and we are finally beginning to catch up. To have a crowd like this at a cycling event is unbelievable.”

See our live coverage here and share your comments, pictures and video by using #WomensTour.

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