Kettering will host the finish of the first stage of this year’s Women’s Tour cycle race.
Last year the whole event came to a conclusion in the town, but this year will see the prestigious event’s first stage finish in the town.
The race will start in Daventry. Other stages will take place in Warwickshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and Derbyshire, and finally in London.
All of the world’s top 15 teams will take part in the race, which is a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, including the world’s number one team Boels Dolmans, of defending race champion Lizzie Deignan, and Wiggle HIGH5, ensuring British fans can again look forward to cheering on the world’s best riders.
In addition the British-based Drops and WNT teams will complete the 17-team field.
The Women’s Tour will begin in Daventry on Wednesday, June 7, with the opening stage between the town and Kettering.
Cllr Mark Dearing, portfolio holder for regeneration at Kettering Council, said: “It’s great to see the Women’s Tour professional cycling race back in Northamptonshire and I’m delighted that a stage of the race will finish in Kettering for the third year running.
“Whether you watch the race at the start, finish or along the route, it promises to be a real spectacle.
“The race will not only draw the crowds into the area, it will help encourage more people to take up cycling and live a more active and healthy lifestyle.”
Cllr Heather Smith, leader of Northamptonshire County Council, which is responsible for bringing the race to the county, said: “The Women’s Tour is becoming a much-loved fixture in Northamptonshire’s summer calendar and an incredibly popular event for everyone from cycling fans to families and schoolchildren.
“It’s wonderful that we are able to host a stage of this world-class sporting event for the fourth consecutive year and we believe it has an important role to play in inspiring people to get more active.
“Last year’s county stage saw a record number of spectators lining the route thorough Northamptonshire and I very much hope we can smash that record this June!”
Team WNT’s Katie Archibald, who won Gold in the Team Pursuit in Rio de Janeiro said: “The race being hosted by London is a fantastic opportunity for women’s cycling and shows how far the sport has grown over the past couple of years.
“I’m excited but also nervous about the opportunity to ride The Women’s Tour since it’s one of the most competitive stage races on the women’s UCI calendar.
“Riding for Team WNT I hope to make an impact on the road scene after a change of focus from an enjoyable track season in 2016.”
Women’s Tour race director Mick Bennett said: “This year’s route will combine testing climbs and beautiful scenery in the heart of England with the London finish, which will be an undoubted highlight of the sporting calendar.
“Counties such as Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire have embraced The Women’s Tour, so this year’s edition will see yet more of the huge roadside crowds cheering on the world’s best.”
Chief executive of race organisers SweetSpot Group Hugh Roberts said: “We have a fantastic field of the world’s best teams, a testing route with an iconic finale in the heart of the world’s foremost city and a very important and entirely fitting partnership with Breast Cancer Care.
“After three editions The Women’s Tour continues to grow and go from strength to strength, but to take the event on to the next level we are seeking a title partner to cement our position as the world’s leading women’s race.”
A one-hour highlights programme of every stage will be broadcast daily on ITV4 and available on demand via the ITV Hub.
The Women’s Tour is a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, comprising 20 events around the world in 10 different countries.
Further details of the stages of The Women’s Tour will be announced over the coming weeks, including the locations of the Queen of the Mountain climbs and Eisberg Sprints for each day.
Amateur cyclists will also be able to get on their bikes in Northamptonshire one week after the final stage on Sunday, June 18, in The Tour Ride Northamptonshire, using some of the roads used by the world’s best in the county.
Forty and 80-mile sportive routes, plus a 10-mile Family Ride, will aim to get people on their bikes to celebrate the race.