World’s top women cyclists head to city today on first leg of tour

Aviva Women's tour cyclists at Dunston Hall preparing for the event. Elena Cecchini, left, and Hanna

Aviva Women's tour cyclists at Dunston Hall preparing for the event. Elena Cecchini, left, and Hannah Barnes of the Canyon Sram team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Today the eyes of the cycling world will be firmly fixed on our region as the Aviva Women's Tour gets under way.

Starting at 10am at Southwold in Suffolk, more than 90 elite female athletes will follow a 132km route to Norwich.

It is the first time the competition has come to Norfolk and this year boasts the strongest rider line-up since it was launched in 2014.

Around 15 of the world's top 20 riders in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rankings are due to take part.

Speaking ahead of the race yesterday at Dunston Hall, defending tour champion Lisa Brennauer said: 'We have had a look at the last 15km of the course and it looks to me like a pretty fast route. It is up and down and so we will be rolling pretty fast and then it has this tricky final bit.'

The opening stage across our region is said to suit sprinters, with the final 8km of the race into Norwich likely to be the most challenging.

Drivers have been warned to expect rolling road closures along the route until the peloton arrives in the city between 1.30pm and 2pm.

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Over the following four days the tour will continue across four other stages, finishing in Kettering on June 19.

Speaking about how she felt the opening stage would pan out, world champion and British favourite Lizzie Armitstead said: 'The first day of a stage race everyone is fresh, motivated and aggressive. They are generally fast and hard [races] and as it is flat around here that leads to a bunch sprint.'

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

For more information visit