Video/Gallery: Pre-race excitement is building ahead of tomorrow’s Women’s Tour, starting in Bury St Edmunds
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Excitement is building in Suffolk ahead of the Aviva Women’s Tour which starts in Bury St Edmunds tomorrow.
Stage One of the major women’s cycling event will begin in Angel Hill at 11am and is due to finish in Market Cross, Aldeburgh, at about 1.50pm.
The 112.6km leg will take in Rougham, Bradfield St George and Felsham before the riders reach Stowmarket. There, they will continue through the countryside of Earl Stonham and Stonham Aspal before reaching Ipswich.
The race will then head towards the coast, visiting Rendlesham, Snape, Leiston and Thorpness before finishing in Aldeburgh.
This evening, sporting soprano Laura Wright opened the team presentation event in Charter Square, Bury, and performed two songs for the crowds.
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Miss Wright, who is 25 tomorrow and originally from Framlingham, will be cycling the Stage One route in aid of SportsAid - a charity she is an ambassador of - before the world’s top female cyclists begin their race.
She said: “I was reading about the tour and how last year it finished here and so to have the tour starting here this year, being someone from Suffolk, is incredibly exciting.
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“Hopefully there’s going to be so much enthusiasm surrounding this. You can see already people are so interested and I think the sport is getting the attention it thoroughly deserves.”
She added: “As much as singing is my career, sport is my passion. For me it’s about rolling my sleeves up and getting involved.”
As each of the 16 teams were presented on stage to the crowds, representatives from Bury St Edmunds primary schools showed their ‘adopted’ teams the good luck banners they had made.
Dame Sarah Storey, who is leader of the British Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International team, said: “We know the UK is sport mad after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There was such an amazing atmosphere there and if this is going to be anything close to that it will be amazing.”
Throughout the afternoon in Charter Square people were able to test their cycling performance on a Watt Bike, make a drink on a pedal-powered smoothie bike, race Scalextric cars around a track using only pedal power and take part in a virtual race on the roller cycles.
Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for leisure and culture said: “This will rank as one of the most memorable events to be held in Bury St Edmunds.
“Cycling is such an open sport – and an opportunity to be so close to its stars is inspiring. It captures imaginations and the possibilities are limitless.”
Sarah Howard, chair of Abbeycroft Leisure, which has worked with the council to organise the Bury event, said: “There has never been a better time to get involved in cycling.
“Women and girls are owning it, giving it an inclusive, social atmosphere. There are hundreds of things going on during the Suffolk Year of Cycling for everyone to choose from.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Ourburystedmunds Business Improvement District (BID) group, said it was “absolutely tremendous” to have the Women’s Tour back in Bury for the second year.
“It demonstrates how the organisers of these type of events see the town as being a great host.
“It’s great for businesses, both today and tomorrow, but also longer term with the name and reputation of Bury St Edmunds being spread far and wide. Long may it continue.”
Highlights of every stage will be shown on ITV4 at 8pm daily, with a repeat the following morning on the same channel.