The Aviva Women’s Tour will be returning to East Anglia for the opening stage of this year’s race.
When the world’s top riders head from Southwold to Norwich on June 15, it will be the third successive year that Suffolk has hosted a stage of the race, which is now a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, while for Norfolk it will be the first time the tour has visited.
The race will begin from Southwold, home of principal stage partners Adnams, who have supported the Aviva Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain stages in Norfolk and Suffolk since 2010.
It will follow a route to Lowestoft, Harleston and Attleborough on its way to Norwich.
Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “It’s great news for Suffolk that the Women’s Tour will be returning to the county for the third year in a row and it’s a real honour to be chosen to host the Grand Depart for the second year in succession, which is testament to the fantastic reception and support that the race and riders receive when visiting Suffolk.
“The Women’s Tour provides a significant boost for the local economy, whilst showcasing Suffolk’s picturesque towns, villages, coast and countryside to a worldwide audience as World and Olympic champions pass through Suffolk’s local communities.
“Cycling for pleasure, sport or transport is a fantastic way to keep active and we hope that by attracting these high profile events to the county that it will inspire more women and girls across Suffolk to take up cycling or some form of sport and physical activity, assisting us in our bid to become the most active county in England.”
Ben Jones, director of Active Norfolk, said; “Following the success of the Tour of Britain coming through Norfolk last year, we are really excited to now be welcoming the Women’s Tour to the county, and proud that Norwich will be hosting the grand finale. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to promote cycling across the county, and with statistics showing that cycling is still a predominantly a male sport it is a fantastic example to help encourage more women out on their bikes and getting more active.”
Emma Hibbert, Adnams marketing director, said: “As proud supporters of the Women’s Tour, we’re delighted to be hosting the prestigious Grand Depart in our home town. We hope it will bring a great deal of visitors to Southwold to watch the race and find time to explore what the area has to offer, including all things Adnams.”
Taking place over five days, the 2016 edition of the race will be a part of the new UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar, currently one of just four multi-day stage races on the season long programme of races for the world’s top riders and teams. Highlights of each stage will be shown on ITV4 every night during the race.
Mick Bennett, race director for the Aviva Women’s Tour, said: “We are pleased to be able to return to Suffolk, a county which has played a key role in the development of the Aviva Women’s Tour, but also to visit Norfolk for the first time with the race. The start in Southwold will also allow us to work with Adnams, our long term partners for both the Aviva Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain, and to bring the race to their home town, while the finish in Norwich will be hugely important for our title sponsors Aviva as one of their key locations.
“The opening stage should be one for the sprinters with a largely flat route skirting the Broads before the finish in Norwich city centre.”
Reigning world road race champion Lizzie Armitstead, of the Boels Dolmans team, said: “As a British rider it’s a privilege to be able to compete on home roads. The British public have really taken to cycling and you can see that when the race goes through different towns, the community really gets behind it.
“I’m excited to see the growth in women’s cycling and I think the Women’s Tour has had a really positive impact on that change.”
Reigning Aviva Women’s Tour champion Lisa Brennauer, of the Canyon SRAM team, said: “The race last year was outstandingly well organised and the amount of people that came to watch and cheer for us was breath-taking. Including some new routes with more climbs and longer stages than before, the tour offers new opportunities and again huge possibilities for thrilling racing.”
Details of the Stage One route, including the locations of the Strava Queen of the Mountains climbs and the Chain Reaction Cycles Sprints, and timings will be announced in the coming weeks along with details of the teams spectators can look forward to seeing in action.