Prestigious women’s cycle event will see world’s best riders racing through the region

Riders coming through the Suffolk countryside during the Women's Tour 2018 Stage 1, which went from Framlingham to Southwold

Riders coming through the Suffolk countryside during the Women's Tour 2018 Stage 1, which went from Framlingham to Southwold - Credit: The Women's Tour

A major cycle race is coming to a road near you, with not one but two stages of the Women’s Tour racing through east Essex and Suffolk this October. 

The Women’s Tour, the most prestigious cycle stage race on the international women’s calendar, will see around 100 riders whizzing through the streets of east Essex and Suffolk for Stages 5 and 6 on October 8 and 9. 

Created by SweetSpot Group in 2014, the Women’s Tour was the UK’s first international stage race created solely for women. Since 2016 it has formed part of the prestigious UCI Women’s WorldTour series. 

The Women’s Tour isn’t just a cycle race: it is an event offering a major social agenda and the promotion of sporting participation and healthy living, as well as championing equality in sport, notably offering the same prize fund pro rata as the men’s Tour of Britain. 

This year’s race was rescheduled from last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the organisers hope it will be a celebration for the cycling community, for which getting out on their bikes was a great form of escape during the various lockdowns. 

Mick Bennett, Women’s Tour race director, said: “After the challenges that the Women’s Tour has faced since the start of 2020, it is extremely uplifting to know that when we finally return in October our passionate fans will again be able to enjoy watching the world’s best teams and riders along the roadside – all for free, too!  

“We’ve designed a route that will make sure the battle for overall glory goes down to the final day. Roll on October!” 

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The race will attract an all-star field once again for its seventh edition, with 12 of the world’s top 15 teams in action, including all nine of the top division UCI Women’s WorldTour teams confirmed to race. 

Danielle Every, British Cycling’s cycling delivery director, said: “Year after year, the Women’s Tour attracts the best teams in the world and 2021 is proving to be no different. Despite the disappointment of last year’s postponement, we know that the riders on show – who will be cheered on by brilliant crowds over six days of racing – will make this latest edition one of the most spectacular yet. 

“After the explosion in cycling participation that we have seen during the pandemic, we hope that this event will be a fantastic showcase to help us nurture the next generation of female talent and to inspire more women and girls across the nation to have a go at a local cycling event whatever their age or ability. 

“We’re incredibly proud of how the Women’s Tour has established itself as a mainstay of the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar and real celebration of incredible female talent, so we are all eagerly anticipating its return in October.” 

The Women’s Tour and British Cycling have also teamed up to launch Ride for Heroes which will celebrate Britain’s key workers and community heroes. Each stage start and finish venue will play host to a special ride out to allow spectators their chance to say thank you to the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With two stages passing through our region, there’s plenty of opportunities for spectators to get a view of the action and enjoy our fine countryside and towns. 

Pete Waters, executive director, Visit East of England, said: “After so long spent in lockdown, The Women's Tour is a great opportunity to get off your quarantine couch and enjoy a fresh air fix while watching a thrilling sporting event.  

“Have a day out in our wonderful natural landscape, rediscover picturesque towns, take a picnic or find a welcoming pub or café along the route. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our new found freedoms!” 

For more information on the routes visit www.womenstour.co.uk 

Stage 5 

Colchester and Clacton will host the penultimate stage of the Women’s Tour as the world’s top cyclists get set to race from the historic castle town to the English coast on Friday, October 8. 

This stage will mark the first time that Colchester has welcomed the Women’s Tour, although the town’s notable links to cycling include hosting a Tour of Britain stage finish (2010) and four rounds of the Tour Series. In a two-year agreement with race organisers SweetSpot, Colchester will also host the Grand Départ of next year’s race in June 2022. 

Stage five starts at Colchester’s Northern Gateway Sports Park, the new leisure facility that is already inspiring local residents to live a more active lifestyle. Riders will complete a lap of the venue’s closed road cycle circuit before heading into Colchester’s historic city centre.  

Cllr Paul Dundas, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “What a coup to bring the Women’s Tour to Colchester to showcase this historic town on the world stage. Colchester is hugely proud to support this global event and our ambitions for Stage 5 are to celebrate this fantastic part of Essex, attract thousands of visitors to the area, boost the local economy, inspire the sports women of the future and encourage all of us to lead fitter, healthier lives.” 

Meanwhile, Clacton will host its third stage finish in Women’s Tour history this year. Another spectator-friendly stage, the peloton will pass through the finish line on Clacton seafront after just 32 kilometres before completing a 63.5-kilometre loop via Holland-on-Sea, Thorpe-le-Soken and Manningtree.  

The Women’s Tour’s two previous stage finishes in Clacton both culminated in bunch sprints, won by Marianne Vos (2014) and Jolien D’hoore (2015). At 95.5 kilometres, this is the shortest road stage of the 2021 race.    

Alex Porter, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said the Women’s Tour was always a fantastic boost to the area. 

“We know from the previous years we have hosted this elite race just what a spectacle it is, an event enjoyed by both dedicated cycling fans and newcomers to the sport as well,” Cllr Porter said. 

“As well as being a boost for businesses as spectators flock to the area to enjoy the event, this also captures the imagination and inspires people to dust off their bikes and take up cycling; which is good for the environment and your health.” 

Stage 6 

Suffolk hosts the final stage of the Women’s Tour between Haverhill and Felixstowe on Saturday, October 9. It will be the first time that Suffolk, which aims to be England’s most active county, has hosted the final stage of the race since 2014. 

The stage, which was set to be a part of last year’s Women’s Tour prior to its postponement owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, was initially unveiled at the Port of Felixstowe in January 2020.  

A characteristic scenic route through the county will take the peloton past the Melford Hall stately home and through Sudbury before passing along the runaway at Wattisham Flying Station.  

The route also includes Stowmarket, Wickham Market and Woodrbridge, all of which have featured in historic Women’s Tour stages in the county, before heading south towards the finish line adjacent to the beach in Felixstowe.      

Haverhill is new to the Women’s Tour while Felixstowe – which appeared in the inaugural edition of the race seven years ago – will host its first stage finish. 

Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming the Women’s Tour back to Suffolk for its sixth visit to the county, and I’m so pleased to have this year’s exciting route for the final stage confirmed. 

“The last 16 months have been a particularly challenging time for so many, and it is a nice feeling to have a world class sporting event coming to Suffolk, that we can all look forward to and celebrate. 

“Initiatives like ‘Love to Ride Suffolk’ have helped us to keep active during times of restrictions and I hope that welcoming the World’s top female cyclists to Suffolk will continue to inspire people to get out on their bikes and enjoy what this county has to offer.” 

Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome the Women’s Tour back to East Suffolk this autumn, after what has been a difficult year for many. This gives us something really special and exciting to look forward to, and no doubt our communities will be as supportive and celebratory as ever and keen to support the event and our local businesses during this sporting spectacular.  

“We are committed to increasing people’s participation in sport and the Women’s Tour will no doubt inspire more people to take up cycling and improve their health and wellbeing.” 

2021 competing teams 

Alé BTC Ljubljana (Italy) 

AWOL O’Shea (Great Britain) 

CAMS-Basso Bikes (Great Britain) 

Canyon SRAM Racing (Germany) 

Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling (Germany) 

Drops-Le Col s/b TEMPUR. (Great Britain) 

FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope (France) 

Liv Racing (Netherlands) 

Movistar Team (Spain) 

Parkhotel Valkenburg (Netherlands) 

SD Worx (Netherlands) 

Team BikeExchange (Australia) 

Team DSM (Germany) 

Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank (USA) 

Trek-Segafredo (USA) 

Valcar-Travel & Service (Italy) 

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