Women’s Tour: Elite women’s cycle tour race to show off the best of region this weekend - but be prepared for road closures
PUBLISHED: 08:47 09 May 2014
Tourism bosses hope the arrival of the national women’s cycle tour race in Suffolk and Essex will show off the counties at their very best – and encourage even more people to visit.
Action from the race will be shown nationwide on TV, while thousands will be visiting to see the high-speed racing live as it winds its way through picture-postcard towns and villages.
Stage 3 of the Friends Life-sponsored event will begin from Felixstowe tomorrow, and the race will end in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday, with communities on the route busy putting the final touches to their preparations to host the 96 racers on the Women’s Tour – and the thousands coming to watch.
The very best women cyclists will be taking part, including World and Olympic champion Marianne Vos, world number one Emma Johansson, current UCI world cup leader Lizzie Armitstead, and British Olympic stars Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King, who together won gold in the team pursuit at London 2012.
Suffolk Coastal cabinet member TJ Haworth said: “The fact that the top women riders in the world are taking part shows what a major event this is in the professional cycling calendar.
“People have the opportunity to turn out and see elite sportswomen in action on their doorstep.
“A lot of hard work went into attracting this prestigious event to the area. Hopefully it will give a massive boost, not only to Felixstowe but the entire district.
“Hopefully, it will also bring in cycling enthusiasts from across the country and, through the link to the continent via Harwich, will open the event up to cycling fans from the heartland of competitive cycling, such as Holland, France and Germany.”
In Babergh and Mid Suffolk, Sue Longhurst, the councils’ health and wellbeing officer, said: “We are so fortunate that we have some lovely countryside within our two districts that the tour will pass through and will hopefully highlight the beautiful scenery we have around the Stour Valley and Constable Country.
“We hope that as many people as possible will take time out to watch the race and support the riders.”
The Felixstowe stage of the five-day race – which got under way on Wednesday in Northants – will go through Suffolk Coastal’s countryside to Ipswich, then down to Essex, finishing in Clacton.
The Felixstowe stage will start from outside the Town Hall, Undercliff Road West at 11am tomorrow.
Free parking will be available all day, but people are being warned there will be road closures. Undercliff Road West will be shut from midnight to 4pm, and other roads will be closed temporarily while the cyclists race through.
There will be cycling events on The Triangle and a Beat The Incline challenge event up Convalescent Hill.
Before it reaches Bury on Sunday, the final stage will go through towns and villages including Brantham, East Bergholt, Raydon, Hadleigh, Boxford, Gt Cornard, Sudbury, Long Melford, Lavenham, Great Finborough, and Rattlesden.
More than 4,000 people are expected to watch the riders cross the finishing line at Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.
There will also be a 20m x 20m media screen so that spectators can catch the final moments of the race towards the finish line around 12.50pm.
The town has planned a weekend celebration of cycling and sport to celebrate the event, aimed at encouraging people to get back on their bike.
Activities will be taking place in Charter Square, Angel Hill, the Abbey Gardens, the Apex and on Bury’s Saturday market.
Alison Blackwell, development director at Abbeycroft Leisure, which is organising many of the events, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Bury St Edmunds and what a way to spend a Sunday morning, watching cyclists at the very top of their game on our doorstep.
“It is a wonderful coup for the town to host the finish and we hope it inspires people to get on their bike and get out into our beautiful countryside and help make Suffolk the most active county in the UK.”
Activities taking place include a cycle Road Safety Show, a portable mountain bike track, a display of classic bicycles, including a Penny Farthing racing bike, and British Cycling Go Ride demonstrations, wattbikes and sprint races for youngsters organised by the West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club
Officials in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have warned of rolling road closures as the race moves through the area.
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