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Barnes sisters will be hoping to capture the region’s support

There may not be any riders with roots in the area to cheer through Suffolk on Wednesday, but this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour will include two East of England sisters bidding to use a home crowd to roar them to success.

Canyon//SRAM are the current leading UCI women’s team and will include Alice and Hannah Barnes, who will be hoping to get a good start under their belts on the Framlingham to Southwold first stage – which will see riders tear through Needham Market and Stowmarket – ahead of taking to their local roads in Northamptonshire the next day.

Hannah finished third overall in the race last year, winning the Adnams Best British Rider jersey; her result was the second highest finish by any British rider since the inaugural edition in 2014.

The 25-year-old, who previously won the final stage of the 2015 event into Hemel Hempstead, said: “I’m really excited for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour.

“We get to have our family and friends out along the route supporting us, which doesn’t happen that often throughout the season.”

Younger sister Alice recently won a stage of the Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour in Germany and came sixth overall in the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour. She finished in the top 10 on the first three stages.

The siblings come from Towcester, which sits just a few kilometres north of where Stage Two (from Rushden to Daventry) will pass through on Thursday.

The pair will be among a star list of provisional riders just released which includes six-time Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, who has won 22 Paralympic medals including 11 gold, and the Netherlands powerhouse Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cyucling), who is widely regarded as the best female cyclist of her generation. Whereas Vos won the inaugural 2014 Women’s Tour race that finished in Bury St Edmunds, Storey, who has entered in her own team, Storey Racing, will want to improve on her previous experience of the country’s biggest female stage race, having come 76th overall in a tough 2015 edition.

A couple of other names on the provisional list to catch the eye are Scotland’s 2017 UCI Track World Champion Katie Archibald (Wiggle HIGH5) and Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans) who is the current UCI Women’s Road World Champion.

Suffolk’s Stage One will see riders cover 129.7 km (80.7 mile) that is expected to end on Southwold’s North Parade at around 2pm.

One of two sprint stages is set for Needham Market High Street from shortly before 12noon with Stowupland crowds due to see riders by 12.15pm after they have headed down Gipping Way through Stowmarket.

l For a map of the route, see page 3

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