Oundle has been chosen to stage the Grand Depart for the first-ever Women’s Tour of Britan.
The event has been awarded the top status possible by cycling’s governing body, the UCI, for its 2014 launch and will get underway in Northamptonshire.
The race begins on May 7 in Oundle and concludes on May 14.
“The Women’s Tour will be a fantastic addition to the British racing calendar next year,” said British Cycling’s Director of Cyclesport Jonny Clay.
“We worked with SweetSpot to identify the best calendar slot and lobbied the UCI for the highest category a start up event could attain. The fact that the event has been granted 2.1 status, putting it in the top echelon of races, is welcome news.”
Guy Elliott, director of event organiser SweetSpot, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that the UCI have awarded us 2.1 status for this exciting new event.
“Our first stage, including the Grand Depart, will be based entirely in Northamptonshire, which is a fantastic county for racing and will the first time that Northamptonshire has hosted a major Tour.
“The stage will be a challenging test for all riders on a beautiful and challenging route of opening day of the race, with plans to pass through many of the county’s towns and villages.
“We are particularly pleased about Northamptonshire’s plans to use the event to promote women’s sport in its widest context to young people.”
Deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council Heather Smith said: “We are very excited that Northamptonshire has been chosen to host the first stage of The Women’s Tour. This is an opportunity to showcase our beautiful county to the rest of the world as well as promote cycling and women’s sport locally, and will be the start of a summer of cycling events.
“I am particularly pleased that Oundle will be the location for the start of the first stage as this beautiful historic town will make a very memorable setting for the first-ever Grand Depart of The Women’s Tour. And of course Northampton, the county town, is a fantastic place to end this historic first stage.”
Mayor George Higgins from Oundle Town Council said: “We are extremely proud that Oundle has been chosen for the start of the first-ever Women’s Tour.
“The picturesque surroundings of our historic town will provide a stunning backdrop to the Grand Depart for cyclists and supporters alike, and we are also planning to organise an exciting programme of activities to celebrate this significant event.
“It’s a real honour to host the first stage and the Grand Depart, and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to Oundle next May.”