SOME of the world’s best cyclists will race from Colchester to Clacton as the prestigious Women’s Tour arrives in north Essex.
Today’s announcement by SweetSpor Group, the firm behind the Women’s Tour, has been timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Taking place in October, the race will be part five of 2021’s Women’s Tour, which is part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour series.
It will showcase Colchester’s new £29 million Northern Gateway Sports Park, which features a one-mile, closed-road cycling circuit.
Here is a video announcing the news:
As part of a two-year agreement with race organisers SweetSpot, Colchester will also host the start of Grand Départ of next year’s race in June 2022.
Colchester Council’s Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd will work alongside SweetSpot to host and promote the Colchester event and ensure residents and businesses in the borough enjoy the occasion.
Theresa Higgins, Colchester Council’s commercial services chief, said: “As a keen cyclist I am delighted with our success in attracting such a high-profile, global event to Colchester.
“As well as giving the town a huge commercial boost, it will no doubt inspire people of every age and ability to get on their bikes and enjoy the cycle lanes and open spaces in and around our borough.”
Business boss David King added: “The economic recovery of the borough is our priority, and so we welcome the good news Colchester is to host a leg of the prestigious Women’s Tour.
“This spectacular event will attract many visitors to Colchester to watch the elite riders race through the town and will showcase our outstanding new cycling facilities at the Northern Gateway Sports Park – not least the fully floodlit one-mile cycle track, pump track and learn to ride facility.”
2021’s race will be the third to take place in Clacton since its inaugural edition in 2014.
Marianne Vos, the Women’s Tour first-ever champion, won along the seaside resort’s promenade seven-years-ago, before Belgian Jolien D’hoore triumphed there in 2015.
Alex Porter, Tendring Council’s leisure and tourism chief, said: “It is always a pleasure to have the Women’s Tour come to the Essex Sunshine Coast, and with our beautiful countryside and coastline we can provide a stunning backdrop for this top cycling race.
“There is an incredible atmosphere along the route, especially at the finish line, and I am really looking forward to having the race come back to Clacton – particularly in the town’s 150th anniversary year, when there is so much going on.”
2015’s event boosted Tendring’s economy by £1.3 million.
The full route of the north Essex stage, including SKODA Queen of the Mountains and sprints locations, will be revealed in due course.
Mick Bennett, Women’s Tour race director, said: “Colchester and Clacton both have a long history with SweetSpot’s events, so we’re delighted to be visiting them again on the penultimate day of this year’s Women’s Tour.
“Clacton and Tendring Council’s continued support of the Women’s Tour should not be underestimated. They backed the inaugural edition of the race in 2014 and have continued to show their desire to push for gender equality in sport ever since.
“The previous two stages may have culminated with hard-fought bunch sprints but if the wind blows in from the sea who knows what could happen!
“I’m also delighted to welcome Colchester on board as our Grand Départ start host for 2022, which, together with the opening of the stunning new Northern Gateway Sports Park, really emphasises the town’s commitment to promoting healthy living and sustainable transport initiatives.”
The Women’s Tour, which forms a part of the prestigious UCI Women’s WorldTour, will start in Oxfordshire at Bicester and finish with a stage from Haverhill to Felixstowe in Suffolk.
Danielle Every, British Cycling’s cycling delivery director, said: “The Women’s Tour continues to go from strength to strength, with a debut stage for Colchester and a return to Clacton both highlighting the stature in which the race is held on the women’s international road calendar.
“The growth of the event plays a crucial role in our ongoing ambition to get more women and girls on bikes, and we’re sure that the riders on show later this year will help to inspire more girls to get in the saddle in Essex and beyond and maybe even get out on a local club or group ride or have a go at a competitive or challenge event.
“British Cycling remain concerned about the gender imbalances within cycling and are committed to do all we can to help promote women’s cycling and support female cyclists, coaches and volunteers whatever their aspirations across all disciplines.”
SweetSpot will announce full details of the penultimate stage and the 2021 route in the summer once alternative dates of Monday 4 to Saturday 9 October* are confirmed.