The importance of using the Friends Life Women’s Tour Cycle race to get Bury on its bikes was stressed when details of its first stage were announced today.
The June race starts on Bury St Edmunds’ Angel Hill in 100 days time, sending competitors off on the first 112km stage of the race to Aldeburgh.
With organisers, competitors, council and business represented at the race launch, the theme was making sure the inspiration created by the race was not lost.
Melanie Lesser, chairman of Visit Bury St Edmunds and a keen cyclist, said: “It showcases the town and Suffolk is perfect cycling country.
“But we do need more bike routes. I’ve cycled in Austria, Germany and Holland and there the bike comes first.”
Sarah Stamp, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s leisure portfolio holder said: “When you’ve got these inspirational ladies on their bikes, my hope is young people across the town will get involved – cycling is inclusive.
“There are gaps in our cycle routes and we’ll be speaking to Suffolk County Council about that. Moreton Hall is well served but in town we need more cycle routes.”
Alex Paul, director of Gough Hotels which owns The Angel, welcomed the race but said: “It’s about having cycle infrastructure so we can recommend our guests bring their bikes. Cycling and walking are great ‘products’ to have in Bury and we should do more to make them accessible.”
Racers and organisers Bury said has a lot to offer. Gabrielle Shaw of the Pearl Izumi team, felt having a good looking starting point was important. She said: “The race shows the best of Britain, coming to all these nice towns and villages. It’s lovely to start in a nice place, though once you’re racing you don’t see much because you’re head down.”
Jonathan Durling, from tour organisers SweetSpot, agreed: “We have TV coverage so we want it to look good.”
He praised St Edmundsbury Council for the enthusiastic support it gives the race, which finished here last year.