Top cyclists arrive in region for Aviva Women’s Tour

Above, jostling for position on the 2015 Womens Tour of Britain. Picture: Sweetspot

Above, jostling for position on the 2015 Womens Tour of Britain. Picture: Sweetspot - Credit: Archant

Some of the top cyclists in the world will be racing through our region this week for the Aviva Women's Tour.

Lisa Brennauer celebrates winning the 2015 Aviva Womens Tour of Britain, with Belgiums Jolien DHoore

Lisa Brennauer celebrates winning the 2015 Aviva Womens Tour of Britain, with Belgiums Jolien DHoore (right) in second place and Simona Frapporti third. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire - Credit: PA

More than 350,000 people are expected to watch the five-day event, which comes to Norfolk and Suffolk for the opening stage.

It will see 96 elite female athletes race more than 130 kilometres from Southwold on Wednesday morning through to the finish line in Norwich.

Organisers have warned of rolling road closures across the route from 10am as the peloton makes its way to the city. It should arrive between 1.30pm and 2pm.

This year's race is said to feature the strongest rider line-up since it was first launched in May 2014.

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And it promises to be a dramatic finish in the city centre, where crowds will see who will be first to wear the Aviva yellow jersey.

A spokesman for the competition said: 'Fifteen of the world's top 20 female cyclists will be racing, headlined by current World Champion and British favourite Lizzie Armitstead going head-to-head with multiple World and Olympic champion Marianne Vos.'

There will be plenty of activities for people to enjoy throughout the day in Norwich prior to the arrival of the peloton.

These include a vintage bike display, live music and a school presentation from 11am to midday.

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People wanting to see the finish line are advised to head to St Peter's Street, near to City Hall.

Roger Ryan, Norwich City Council cabinet member for customer care and leisure said: 'We are very proud to welcome the Aviva Women's Tour to the heart of Norwich. There will be all sorts of fantastic activities going on at the finish line and outside the Forum for the crowd to come and enjoy, as well as opportunities to get more involved in cycling.

'Norwich is a cycle-friendly city and I'm sure the arrival of these fantastic athletes will inspire even more cyclists to get out on their bikes this summer.'

Ben Jones, director of Active Norfolk, added: 'Bringing the Women's Tour to Norfolk for the first time demonstrates a significant commitment from Active Norfolk and our partners to showcasing our great county, whilst delivering a serious message about the benefits of an active lifestyle.

'Women and girls take part in less sport and physical activity than their male counterparts, so this high-profile sporting event for women provides us with a platform to showcase female athletic performance and hopefully to inspire women and girls of all ages to get out on their bikes.'

Highlights of the Aviva Women's Tour will be shown each evening on ITV4 with a repeat the following morning on the same channel.

The highlights will also be available on demand for 30 days via the ITV Hub catch-up service

• A STRONG FIELD

This year's tour is said to have the strongest field in its three-year history.

And around 15 of the world's top 20 riders in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rankings are due to compete.

Faces to look out for this year include Britain's Lizzie Armitstead, from the Boels Dolmans team.

The 27-year-old won the 2014 and 2015 UCI Women's World Cup series and is the 2015 World Road Race champion.

Dutch rider Marianne Vos, 29, of the Rabo Liv team, won the first edition of the race in 2014 and returns this year after an injury.

She is the current Olympic road race champion, having previously won gold on the track at Beijing.

Lisa Brennauer, from Germany, of the Canyon/SRAM team, is returning to defend her title having won last year's event.

And Swedish National Champion Emma Johansson is another name to look out for having signed to the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team this year.

• MAKING MUSIC

There will be a variety of bike-themed activities for people to enjoy on the day at The Forum in Norwich.

One of the more unusual events is a workshop being led by the charity Musical Keys.

It will be helping the public to create music from inventive instruments created from bits of abandoned bikes.

The free workshop is taking place at Millenium Plain, outside the Forum, from 11.30pm to 1.30pm.

Oliver Payne, programme manager, said: 'We are excited to have an opportunity to share our passion for accessible music making and combine it with the nation's love of cycling and the women's tour cycle race.

'We have created a bike wheel marimba, pedal powered portable noise maker, bowed bicycle dulcimer, wheelchair synth and mechanical drum machine.'