Where best to see The Women’s Tour 2015 as it passes through Suffolk and north Essex
- Credit: Archant
The Women’s Tour returns to East Anglia tomorrow and here we bring you all you need to know about the race, including downloadable maps of the routes.
Launched last year, the international race - which is sponsored this year by Aviva - will see top riders such as multiple Paralympic Champion Dame Sarah Storey, current World Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer, Olympic champion Dani King and double Olympic champion Laura Trott, compete as 16 different teams go head to head.
Last year stage three of The Women’s Tour set out from Felixstowe, travelled into Ipswich and out to the Essex seaside towns of Thorpe le Soken, Great Holland and Clacton-on-Sea.
Stage five – the final stage of the race – started in Harwich, took in the picturesque villages along the Suffolk/Essex border including East Bergholt, Great Cornard and Lavenham before finishing in style on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds.
Hundreds lined the routes, and the same is expected to happen tomorrow as interest in the sport continues to grow.
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The 2015 Women’s Tour, which again consists of five legs, picks up where last year’s event finished – at the Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds.
The event is organised by SweetSpot Group – a sports events and marketing company, which was behind the successful revival of the Tour of Britain in 2004 after a five-year absence.
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Stage 1 - Wednesday, June 17
The first stage is 110.2km, or 68.5 miles, long and after doing a circuit around Suffolk’s biggest market town, the cyclists will head out of Bury St Edmunds towards Thurston, south to Bradfield St George and then across to Stowmarket before eventually heading south.
The first Queen of the Mountain challenge takes place at Bell’s Cross, near Claydon – a good spot to watch as the cyclists’ pace will slow slightly.
The route passes through Ipswich and the first sprint challenge will take place as they travel along Main Road, Kesgrave.
The route will head on towards Woodbridge and a second sprint stage will take place at Melton before the cyclists head north, passing through the corner of Tunstall Forest.
A second Queen of the Mountain challenge will take place at Church Common Snape, and the women will then continue north to Saxmundam.
The route passes through Leiston and ends in Aldeburgh.
The race gets underway at 11am and the leaders are expected to cross the finish line at Market Cross, Aldeburgh at approximately 1.50pm.
Stage 2 - Thursday, June 18
The second morning’s racing gets underway slightly earlier at 10am and riders will travel 138km, or 85.7 miles, – making this the second-longest leg of the tour.
Starting in Manor Street, Braintree, the race travels around the town centre, along the A131 to Halstead and then follows the A1124 to Castle Hedingham, passing right by the castle before heading up to Great Yeldham and then through rural Essex.
The mountain climb takes place at Finch Hill, near Bulmer before the cyclists head to Sudbury.
From here the route heads east to Hadleigh, then south through Layham area, East Bergholt, Mistley and Wix and onto Thorpe Le Soken.
The majority of the action takes place in the last section of the race, with a speed test scheduled for Kirby Le Soken, a second at Great Bentley and the final Queen of the Mountain challenge at Tenpenny Hill, outside Brightlingsea.
This last section sees the cyclists loop back inland to Elmstead Market and then past Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea and onto the finish in Clacton-on-Sea.
The race is expected to finish at 2pm when the leaders arrive in Marine Parade.
Stage 3 - Friday, June 19
Stage three of the race is the longest at 138.3km – although the start and finish lines are just 30km apart.
The third stage is contained within Northamptonshire, starting in Oundle and finishing in Kettering.
Stage 4 - Saturday, June 20
Day four, which takes place in Hertfordshire, is the shortest race at 102km.
It starts in the south of the county, at Waltham Cross, and ends in High Street, Stevenage.
It passes through Hertford itself, then onto the villages that sit just west of the M11.
The route takes in the busy town of Bishops Stortford, before heading up to its most northerly point at Royston.
It then heads south to Stevenage.
Stage 5 - Sunday, June 21
The final stage is just half a kilometre longer than the previous day’s route. It starts in Marlow, Buckinghamshire and follows a windy route through the Chilterns to Hemel Hempstead for the grand finale.
Where to see the race
Cycling enthusiast Julian Evans has shared his tips on catching the best of the action.
He said: “My first viewing of a cycle event made me laugh out loud, having waited for an hour by the woods in Blaxhall a number of police outriders came past, there was a whoosh as the bikes went past and then support vehicles went by and that was it.”
He advises planning in advance, and seeking out high ground or long, open stretches of road for the best vantage points.
“Try and get to two or three different spots to see the riders come past. It is possible to loop ahead because the road closures are cleverly organised, the outriders stretch ahead a few miles and clear the roads then as soon as the bikes are past the road is open again.
“The start and the finish are really where you can get up close and personal, do try to get to either point.
“The exciting bits are near the sprints and climbs. Look out for an area where you can see a long stretch of road.”
For those wanting to see the first stage, Julian recommends catching the start in Bury St Edmunds.
“Get there early and check out the bikes and kit,” he said.
“After the departure pop along to Woodbridge find a suitable place for refreshment, sit back and watch the race go by.
“Melton Road would be ideal.”
With some clever planning, you could then make it to the finish in Aldeburgh to see the riders cross the finish line.