Aviva Women’s Tour returns to East Anglia with stage from Southwold to Norwich
One of cycling's premier events will come to Norfolk for the first time this summer.
Excitement is building already with the announcement today that the Aviva Women's Tour is to start from Southwold and finishes at Norwich.
The first stage of 132 kilometres on Wednesday, June 15, will also go through Halesworth, Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay, before crossing the Norfolk countryside to Norwich.
It will be the third successive year Suffolk has hosted a stage of the five-day race and the first time for Norfolk.
Last year it was reckoned to have provided a £1.1m economic boost for Suffolk when a field featuring world champions rode from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh – watched by an estimated 70,000 spectators, with almost half visiting from overseas or other parts of the UK.
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Mayor of Southwold Melanie Tucker said it was wonderful for the town to host the start of the event.
She said: 'I think it's a very exciting prospect for the town and for the whole region, especially the economic benefits we hope it will bring.'
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Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for health, said: 'Its 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.'
Emma Hibbert, Adnams' marketing director in Southwold, 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!'
The opening stage of the race, which is now part of the UCI Women's World Tour calendar, should be one for the sprinters with a largely flat route skirting the Broads before the finish in Norwich city centre.
Former winner Marianne Vos, of the Rabo Liv cycling team, said the race was already challenging but expected this summer's route to be even harder.
She said: 'This will take the Women's Tour to the next level in 2016. To have attractive events like the Aviva Women's Tour means a lot for women's cycling.'
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.'