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World’s top cyclists to race across Suffolk and bring £2m boost to economy

PUBLISHED: 14:45 08 March 2018

The 2018 Tour will kick off in Framlingham on June 13. Picture: OVO ENERGY WOMEN'S TOUR 2017

The 2018 Tour will kick off in Framlingham on June 13. Picture: OVO ENERGY WOMEN'S TOUR 2017

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Over 100 of the world’s top cyclists will return to race across Suffolk this summer – and fans are being invited to ride part of the route for charity.

Elizabeth Armitstead pictured at the end of the Women's Tour when it came to Suffolk, finishing in Aldeburgh, in 2015. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNElizabeth Armitstead pictured at the end of the Women's Tour when it came to Suffolk, finishing in Aldeburgh, in 2015. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The OVO Energy Women’s Tour will commence in Framlingham on Wednesday, June 13, and continue round to Ipswich and on to Southwold – home of race sponsor Adnams – in a gruelling 130km route.

The opening stage to the UCI Women’s WorldTour race will see cyclists pass in a loop through Wickham Market, Woodbridge, Kesgrave, Needham Market and Stowmarket, then north through Dennington, Stradbroke and Halesworth.

A special sportive event will also be held two weeks after the race, on July 1, where members of the public can ride some of the route for charity. In aid of Breast Cancer Care, the route will start and finish in Southwold, and take in some of Suffolk’s most beautiful scenery.

Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the opening stage of this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour, welcoming the tour back to Suffolk for a fourth year.

“The race will showcase Suffolk’s heritage and iconic landmarks, bringing major investment into the county. It will also encourage more people to take up cycling and live a more active and healthy lifestyle.

“It will be an event that everyone can celebrate and enjoy.”

Claire Pulford, head of events at Breast Cancer Care, added: “It is particularly exciting for Breast Cancer Care to be involved in this year’s OVO Energy Tour Ride. More than 500 people in Suffolk will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and the funds raised from the tour ride will help our charity continue to support and make a positive difference to these people and the lives of the thousands of people facing breast cancer in the UK.”

Commenting on the announcement, race director Mick Bennett said: “We are delighted that the Grand Départ of the 2018 OVO Energy Women’s Tour will take place in Suffolk, a county that has enthusiastically supported the race since the inaugural edition four years ago.”

The Women’s Tour will be broadcast daily in a 1-hour TV highlights programme on ITV4 and Eurosport.

Boost to economy

The OVO Energy Women’s Tour is set to bring an estimated £2m to the region in tourism, according to Suffolk County Council.

Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health, said hotel stays, local spending and even increased use of paid car parking facilities would contribute to a multi-million pound boost for the economy.

The race is expected to draw huge crowds to Suffolk, with many visiting from outside the county. Of these, 15%-20% could stay overnight – providing a significant boost for the local economy.

In 2016, the tour attracted over 80,000 spectators.

Mr Goldson said: “It’s a tremendous occasion.

“In all these little places they go through, people line the streets.

“I think people will come to see this and they will say they didn’t realise what a beautiful county Suffolk was.”

In a joint statement, TJ Haworth-Culf, Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet member for customers, communities and leisure, and Michael Ladd, cabinet member for economic development and tourism at Waveney District Council, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the OVO Energy Women’s Tour to the area once again, particularly as we will be hosting both the start and finish of the opening stage in east Suffolk.

“This popular event brings many visitors to our region and provides a real boost to the local economy. As always, we will be working closely with local communities, businesses and schools to get them involved with tour-related activities.”

Amanda Bond, from Visit Suffolk, added: “Major events such as the OVO Energy Women’s Tour can provide a fantastic media platform in which to showcase our region and the county of Suffolk to millions of viewers and followers of the tour, with the ultimate aim of attracting new visitors to come and experience our wonderful county for the first time.

“Clearly, it’s a great opportunity to engage local communities and day visitors to experience the tourism offer within the county, so we urge local businesses to engage with the tour and get involved wherever they can.”

The Women’s Tour will be broadcast daily in a 1-hour TV highlights programme on ITV4 and Eurosport.

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