OVO Energy Women's Tour Grand Depart to take place between Beccles and Stowmarket in June
This year's OVO Energy Women's Tour Grand Depart is set to take place between Beccles and Stowmarket, marking the first time that both towns have been selected to host the race.
Around 96 female riders, comprising Olympic, world and national champions, will set off from Beccles on Monday, June 10 on a 98 mile route that will take in northern and central parts of Suffolk before crossing the finish line in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket.
The race, which is the opening stage of Britain's longest-running professional women's race, will also pass through Bury St Edmunds, which hosted the Grand Depart in 2015.
Mick Bennett, OVO Energy Women’s Tour Race director, said: “I am delighted to unveil the route of the 2019 Grand Depart in Suffolk, especially given the amazing response generated by the announcement of our return to the county last month.
"We’re looking forward to visiting Beccles and Stowmarket on a route that will see the race take in a mix of familiar roads to the event, as well as many new towns and villages that have been crying out to feature.”
Adrian Letts, chief executive of retail at OVO Energy, said: “This is our third year sponsoring the OVO Energy Women's Tour, helping to enable a free-to-view sporting event to be brought to fans across the UK.
"Last year we announced the top cyclists at the Women's Tour would compete for equal prize money, taking a meaningful step towards gender parity in cycling. We're proud to have committed to matching the prize money again, helping to provide an equal platform and inspiring more women to ride bikes.”
It was also unveiled at the launch that OVO Energy Women’s Tour’s will link with the Suffolk-based Blossom Charity, who will become the event’s first-ever Community Partner.
Blossom founder Bridget Mcintyre said: “We are thrilled to be the first Community Partner for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour. As a charity we support women to achieve their dreams, build their confidence and be their best, all of which are goals clearly aligned with the event.
“We will be following the route of the tour; we hope to work with 500 women over the six days, offering training and goal-setting at each stage. The team are already preparing and are looking forward to this year’s race.”
In its four previous visits to Suffolk, the OVO Energy Women’s Tour is estimated to have attracted more than 250,000 spectators to the roadside and created a net economic impact for the county’s of more than £3.5 million.
Almost 70 per cent of spectators surveyed following last year’s opening stage, held between Framlingham and Southwold, said that the event inspired them to cycle more often.
The race will also return to the county in 2020, as Suffolk County Council and the East Suffolk Councils have partnered with event organisers SweetSpot Group in a two-year deal.
Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Health, said: “It’s significant that we are announcing details of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour Grand Depart in Suffolk on International Women’s Day and we very much hope that the race will inspire women and girls across Suffolk.
“This event provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase Suffolk to an international audience, while engaging communities across the route from Beccles to Stowmarket to get on their bikes, get active and help us to make Suffolk the most active county in England.”
Further details of this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour, including the full race route and competing teams, will be released in the coming weeks.