Excitement is building in Bury St Edmunds as the start of the first Women’s Tour approaches - with Angel Hill the perfect setting for the race’s thrilling climax.
The inaugural tour kicks off at Oundle in Northamptonshire on May 7, winding its way through Bedfordshire and Essex before the final fight to the finish through Suffolk to Bury on May 11.
Cycling star Emma Trott, sister of Olympic gold medallist Laura, joined event organisers and local councillors in a leisurely ride around the final stage on Tuesday.
Afterwards, Emma said the ‘technical’ course should make a fitting finale for the upcoming road race.
“It is a nice last ten miles of the race but is easy when you ride at that speed,” she said. “You kind of have to take it a different perspective than you would with a race.
“It is the last day as well so you know your legs are going to be heavy - some mistakes will be made so there will be some potential crashes.
“It’s a nice place to cycle in on,” she added.
“You’ve got the church here and the cathedral, it is typical English in every sense.
“They’ve tried to make it as British as possible, the old buildings, the history.”
Guy Elliot, Director of Sweetspot, a sports marketing firm which organises the race, said the atmosphere Angel Hill will provide was the main reason it was picked to mark the end of the race.
“First, the route has spectacular scenery,” he said.
“It could well be a sprint finish so the result of the whole tour could be decided here on Angel Hill.
“Leading into he finish the riders will be desperately working hard to get away from the sprinters.
“The finish here in Bury St Edmunds is crazy - the crowd will be going mad. “You are always looking for a race with a varied terrain which is quite challenging in Suffolk.
“And you are looking all sorts of finishes - you could have a long straight run in to the line or go for a more technical run in with lots of turns.
“This will be a technical finish but what we were really looking for was a finish with atmosphere.”
Guy said the Women’s Tour will play an important role in raising the profile of women’s sport in general.
“Women are discriminated against in sport”, he said.
“If you look at the figures less than half of one percent of sponsorship goes to women’s sport.
“The hope is an event like this will goes some way to changing this - it has a very strong diversity agenda.”
Emma echoed this sentiment, saying she is pleased that interest in women’s cycling, and women’s sport, has grown in recent years.
“I have been around since 2008 and it has changed massively since then,” she said.
“The 2000 Beijing Olympics set it off but with the home Olympics it gave it a different emphasis.
“I know from talking with a couple of other people involved in the race there’s going to be a lot of activities going on throughout the day.
“I think that is important because it’s not just for us, there are other things going on as well.
“The only way to grow a sport is to show it is accessible.”
To celebrate the finish of the race, before the professionals ride into town, local cyclists can join in the Women on Wheels charity ride from 8am at Charter Square.
They can chooses between a short five mile course or a longer 20 mile course - all to raise money for St Nicholas Hospices Care.
Councillor Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said the event would spur the public to get active.
He said: “We know that getting people out and off their backsides doing something, not just cycling, for half an hour a day will transform their lifestyle.
“Even half an hour walking per day.
“Cycling, particularly in Suffolk, is taking off especially among youngsters and children with our Bums on Bikes scheme running here to help them with that.
“We are one of a few counties with more people in sport than ever before - most counties have sat on their haunches but Suffolk hasn’t.
“Bringing this women’s tour to Suffolk is such a wonderful and special occasion.
“We have just come over from Rattlesden with its beautiful roads - not a pot hole in sight.
“And to finish in somewhere like Bury will be absolutely spectacular.
“I’m sure the cobbles on the finish will be a bit of a challenge on their thin racing tires.
“It will be a fantastic end to the race and after five gruelling stages they will be pleased to see Bury St Edmunds on that final push.”