The stage is set and crowds are gathering in Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds, ahead of tonight’s Aviva Women’s Tour rider presentation.
Pupils from County Upper School were among those taking part in the town’s fun cycling activities this afternoon, racing each other on roller cycles, making pedal-powered smoothies and racing scalextric cars, also powered by bicycles.
Soprano Laura Wright, who has just completed a sound check, is set to perform at 5.20pm, after which she will welcome the world’s top women cyclists to the stage for their team presentations.
Imogen Cutler is one of four pupils from Westgate Community Primary School who will be presenting a ‘good luck’ banner to her school’s adopted team, Wiggle Honda, as part of tonight’s events.
The nine-year-old said: “I’m used to being on stage because I dance all over and act at the Theatre Royal, but I am looking forward to it. I just hope my family are able to be there, because they work.”
Long distance cyclists Derek and Siobhan White have travelled into Bury from Felsham to watch tonight’s pre-race activities.
They are also looking forward to seeing the race set off from Angel Hill tomorrow and plan to catch up with it in Hadleigh on Thursday.
“It’ll be nice to see,” said Siobhan, who is excited about setting eyes on last year’s race winner Marianne Vos and Olympic champion Laura Trott.
“It’s great because it promotes women cycling in Suffolk and there aren’t many women cyclists,” she added.
Meanwhile, Derek said the race was a great opportunity to promote Suffolk’s scenic villages.
“One of the reasons we moved here was for cycling - there are so many beautiful villages,” he said.
The couple are ex-weather forecasters and have promised Bury a dry day tomorrow.
Colin Parish, from Stowmarket, is excited about seeing world champion Danni King and Laura Trott, who he watched compete in the Olympics.
He missed the race finish in Bury last year because he was working but, having recently retired, plans to catch this year’s cyclists as they ride through his hometown.
He said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the teams and the general atmosphere of everything. I’ve seen it on TV so I want to see it live - it’s not something you get the chance to do every day. I think it’s brilliant.”
Linda Ford, from Thetford, said: “It’s great and is another reason to feel proud of Bury. It’s happening and people know it’s happening in Bury.”
Her husband, Philip, said it was great for school children to see sports activities promoted and to see Charter Square brought to life, which he feels does not happen enough.
They watched last year’s inaugural race from Angel Hill.
Linda said: “The atmosphere was great - everybody was waving flags and banging. It was amazing, and it was packed. I think there will be just as many people tomorrow.”
Thousands are expected to turn out for the ‘grand depart’ on Angel Hill at 11am tomorrow.
At 8am, Laura Wright will be leading off the tour for charity SportsAid and at 10.45am there will be a pre-race ride out from Angel Hill to St Mary’s Square.
Angel Hill - from the junction with Northgate Street to Crown Street - will be closed from 10pm tonight until 4pm tomorrow.
Parking will also be suspended on Angel Hill, Chequer Square, Crown Street, Honey Hill and Sparhawk Street from 6pm tonight until 4pm tomorrow.