The stars of women’s cycling will be cycling through the county in May.
Eleven of the world’s top 14 professional women’s teams have confirmed they will be taking part in the inaugural Women’s Tour.
The star-studded field sets off from Oundle for the opening stage of the first Women’s Tour on Wednesday, May 7.
Joining the already-confirmed Marianne Vos and her Rabo Liv team will be the likes of Orica–AIS, Boels Dolmans, Specialized Lululemon and the Wiggle Honda team of British Olympians Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King.
Alongside them will be the national side of the world’s number one ranked nation, the Netherlands, plus a Great Britain national team led by Leicestershire’s Lucy Garner.
British domestic team Matrix Fitness–Vulpine also earn an invite for the first ever UCI level stage race for women to take place in the UK, organised by SweetSpot Group, while UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s participation will mean Hannah Barnes racing in her home county of Northamptonshire on the opening day of The Women’s Tour.
The Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team will also travel from the USA to race, with the final two teams for the 16-team, 96-rider field to be announced in due course.
Guy Elliott from organisers SweetSpot Group said: “We are thrilled to be able to bring such a world-class field of teams to ride in the first ever Women’s Tour.
“The race has attracted a wonderful field of elite riders from all over the world, which will be one of the strongest fields ever assembled for an elite women’s international race, and a route which will feature some of the most beautiful roads, villages, towns and countryside in Great Britain.”
The current line-up includes teams from eight different nations with the race expected to draw a high quality field featuring the best riders from each of the named teams, with further rider announcements and the identities of the final two international teams to follow in due course, pending visa confirmations.
To celebrate hosting the inaugural Women’s Tour, Oundle Town Council is holding a special event on Saturday, March 8, from 10.30am.
Women and girls are invited to take their bike to the Drill Hall car park at 10.30am.
They will then ride along West Street to the market place where the race organisers, SweetSpot, have organised music, bubbles and a celebration cake.
The full list of teams for The Women’s Tour is as follows:
Astana Bepink Women’s Team (Ita)
Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (Ned)
Estado de Mexico Faren (Mex)
Great Britain (GBr)
Hitec Products (Nor)
Lotto Belisol Ladies (Bel)
Matrix Fitness – Vulpine (GBr)
Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Orica – AIS (Aus)
Rabo Liv Women’s Cycling Team (Ned)
Specialized – Lululemon (USA)
UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team (USA)
Wiggle Honda (GBr)
The Women’s Tour will take place over five stages between Wednesday, May 7, and Sunday, May 11, beginning in Northamptonshire with an opening stage from Oundle to Northampton.
Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire will all host subsequent stages in the event, before the final stage finish in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, with highlights of every stage shown on ITV4.
A promotional video for The Women’s Tour 2014 can be found here and an interview with Northamptonshire’s Hannah Barnes of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team talks about the race at the top of this story (with thanks to UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling).