Women’s cycling tour to return to Northants

Riders in last year's Women's Tour two miles out from the start at Oundle. Picture by James Walters
Riders in last year's Women's Tour two miles out from the start at Oundle. Picture by James Walters
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Northamptonshire is to once again host a stage of the Women’s Tour.

Friday, June 19, will see the Friends Life Women’s Tour return to Oundle, scene of last year’s opening stage, before racing through Northamptonshire to the finish in Kettering.

In May 2014 Northamptonshire was the host of the first ever Friends Life Women’s Tour stage.

The world’s top riders raced from Oundle to Northampton town centre, in a leg won by Sweden’s Emma Johansson.

Professional cyclist Hannah Barnes, of Northamptonshire, who rides for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team, said: “The prospect of racing on home roads again in the 2015 Friends Life Women’s Tour is very exciting.

“Last year’s experience was unbelievable.

“The media exposure that the race received was incredible and getting back to the hotel after the stage, turning the TV on and being able to watch a full hour of coverage was amazing.

“The crowds that lined the route were unbelievable and to have so many people come out and support the event was humbling and really made me proud to be British.

“Here’s to a great 2015 Tour. I cannot wait!”

Deputy leader oft Northamptonshire County Council Heather Smith said: “After the huge success of last year’s event, I’m delighted that the Friends Life Women’s Tour will be returning to Northamptonshire this summer.

“Full details about the route will be announced soon and I’m looking forward to seeing people across the county turn out to cheer on the riders and support this fantastic event, as they did in 2014.”

Kettering Council portfolio holder for regeneration Derek Zanger said: “We are delighted to welcome this world-class event to the Kettering borough.

“As Kettering will be hosting the finish of Stage 3 it promises to be very exciting.

“It will undoubtedly help raise the profile of the sport and will showcase what Kettering has to offer.

“We expect there will be a lot of interest in the Friends Life Women’s Tour and the council will work closely with local shops and businesses to ensure there is plenty of entertainment to complement the event.”

In 2014 Oundle welcomed the first stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour with a three-day cycling festival in the town centre.

Oundle Town Council clerk Debra Harper said: “We are thrilled that Oundle is to be part of the 2015 Friends Life Women’s Tour.

“Hosting the Grand Départ last year was fantastic and we were delighted with the tremendous support provided by everyone involved and those who came out in their thousands to watch the race.

“The event has left a lasting legacy in the town and preparations are already under way in order to make Friday, June 19, equally enjoyable and memorable.”

This year’s tour takes place from Wednesday, June 17, to Sunday, June 21, again taking place over five stages with daily highlights on ITV4.

Starting in Bury St Edmunds, subsequent stages will go through Suffolk and Essex, before Stage Three sees the race return to Northamptonshire.

The exact details of the Stage Three Northamptonshire route will be announced in the spring.

Friends Life Women’s Tour race director Mick Bennett said: “Northamptonshire and Oundle gave us a great send-off for the first edition of the Friends Life Women’s Tour last May.

“Both have been supporters of the event from the outset, so we are delighted to be returning to both, while Kettering is familiar to us from the Tour Series, and we are confident will make a great finish venue for the stage.”

Further details on the final stage of the 2015 Friends Life Women’s Tour will be announced in the coming weeks.

The full list of 16 teams for the Friends Life Women’s Tour will be confirmed during the spring, joining the already announced teams of Matrix Fitness and debutants Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International.

For more information, visit the website.