Video/Gallery: Ipswich extends warm welcome to cycling stars Laura Trott and Lizzie Armitstead in Aviva Women’s Tour
World champion cyclists competing in the Aviva Women’s Tour passed through the streets of Ipswich and along the Waterfront on their way to Kesgrave earlier today.
Stage one of the race, which has attracted a world-class line-up of 16 teams and debuted to much acclaim last year, started at 11am this morning in Bury St Edmunds – where the five-stage race finished last year.
Today the riders competed in a Queen of the Mountain challenge at hemmingstone hill, cycled through Henley and reached Ipswich just before 1pm, heading along Museum Street, Franciscan Way and on to the Waterfront where spectators provided loud and encouraging support.
They then headed east to Kesgrave.
One onlooker at the Waterfront, Paul Palmer, of Grange Farm, Kesgrave, who works in Ipswich, said the event is helping to put Ipswich “on the map” as a key area for hosting elite sporting events.
He said: “It is a national event and they finished in Bury last year and came back to Suffolk to start in Bury again this year, which says a lot about Suffolk.
“Cycling is definitely a big sport now in the area and there was a very good turnout at the Waterfront today.
“It is always quite a spectacle and I remember a few years ago when Mark Cavendish and others were here.”
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The stellar field is travelling 112.6 kilometres (68.5 miles), mainly through Suffolk’s countryside and narrow roads, taking in Stowmarket, Ipswich, Woodbridge and Saxmundham before the final sprint to the finish at Aldeburgh along the coast south from Thorpeness.
The 94 cyclists include double Olympic track champion Laura Trott, 2014 UCI Women’s Road World Cup winner Lizzie Armitstead and 11-time Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey.
The race is expected to finish along a straight 3km in to Aldeburgh between 1.55pm and 2.31pm.
It was announced all the way back on January 14 that Suffolk would host the opening stage.
Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for the Most Active County, said: “We know from past experience that the people of Suffolk love welcoming elite athletes to the county, so I’m expecting to see lots of people lining the streets to cheer the riders on as they speed past.
“There are a number of excellent places for spectators to stand along the route and catch a piece of the action; the Queen of the Mountain and sprint sections of the race will be particularly action packed.
“But whether people make their way to one of the spots highlighted or line the streets in their town or village, I’m confident that we will give these incredible riders a warm Suffolk welcome.”
Rabo Liv, the team of 2014 Women’s Tour winner and multiple world champion Marianne Vos, is lining up against 15 other international and domestic squads including Armitstead’s Boels Dolmans team and Trott’s Matrix Fitness squad.
Women’s Tour defending champion and three time road World Champion Marianne Vos, of the Netherlands, and road world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot, are both sidelined with injury, leaving Armistead as the pre-race favourite.
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