Final stage of new women's race takes in Essex and Suffolk...


The Women’s Tour, a new five-day stage race in May of next year created by Tour of Britain organisers Sweetspot, will finish in Bury St Edmunds.

The final stage will start in Harwich, Essex on Sunday May 11 and make its way through the Essex and Suffolk countryside to the West Suffolk market town that’s known for brewing and beet sugar.

The start of the stage will take place alongside the the already well-established Tour of Tendring family ride which attracted nearly 2,000 participants last year.

Peter Halliday, Leader of Tendring District Council said: “This will be a wonderful opportunity for anyone wanting to see theworld’s top riders close up.”

“It is not only a chance to meet them at the stage start in Harwich butthen try to emulate them by getting on their own bikes and riding through some stunningly beautiful villages and countryside in Tendring.”

The finish town has previously hosted stages of the men’s Tour of Britain. Sara Mildmay-White of St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “I am delighted that Bury St Edmunds will behosting the final stage of The Women’s Tour. We are really looking forward to welcoming cyclists and spectators from allover the country.”

The inaugural Women’s Tour will take place over five stages between Wednesday May 7 and Sunday May 11 2014, beginning in Northamptonshire with an opening stage from Oundle to Northampton.

The race is expected to attract the world’s top female riders, attracted by Sweet Spot’s promise of decent treatment, prize money and TV coverage.

The TV details have not yet been revealed but earlier this year, outlining plans for the race, Sweetspot director Guy Elliott told road.cc that discussions to secure TV coverage each day were well advanced.

“We have already been in discussion with TV and we are confident of having extensive coverage,” he explained. “We don’t want to say which station but we believe that will be a game-changer because we will have daily significant TV coverage.”

Besides organising the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot is also the company behind the Pearl Izumi Tour Series and sister event the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series, both of which enjoy TV highlights showcasing the towns and cities they are held in.

Elliot told road.cc that the backdrop to the stages of the Women’s Tour would be an important element of the TV coverage.

“Our plan is to get an hour’s TV coverage each day. 20-30 minutes of that might be focusing on the riders and their stories, what goes on behind the scenes, how to get into the sport and maybe 30 minutes on the actual racing.”

Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire will all host  stages of the event, which has a UCI 2.1 ranking, the second-highest possible for a women’s stage race.

Women's Tour schedule

Stage 1, May 7: Oundle to Northampton
Stage 2, May 8: Hinckley to Bedford
Stage 3, May 9: Clacton-on-Sea
Stage 4, May 10: Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City
Stage 5, May 11: Harwich to Bury St Edmunds

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.