The countdown to the Women’s Tour returning to the county has started after its official launch in Rushden.
Northamptonshire will welcome some of the world’s top female cyclists on Thursday, June 14, for stage two of the 2018 race.
It will start in Rushden at 10.30am before the cyclists make their way across the county, covering 145km over the space of three to four hours before finishing in Daventry.
Riders will pass through the market town twice during this stage as part of a challenging finishing circuit that will also see the peloton tackle the notoriously steep Newnham Hill twice.
Today’s official launch in honour of the county’s involvement in this prestigious sporting event was held at Rushden Lakes.
The launch included race organisers SweetSpot, Northamptonshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for public health Cllr Cecile Irving-Swift, and representatives from the borough and district councils in the county who are hosting a section of the race.
Last year’s event – the fourth time the Women’s Tour came to the county – was watched by 80,000 people, generating a record-breaking £1.75m for the local economy.
Northamptonshire is the only county to have featured in every edition of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour since it was launched by SweetSpot in 2014.
17 teams will take part in this year’s race, including 14 of the top 15 ranked teams in the world and four British teams.
Joe Bailey, healthy and active lifestyles officer for East Northants Council, is hoping for a ‘carnival atmosphere’ in Rushden as the cyclists gear up for a day’s cycling through the county.
Invites have gone out to primary schools in Rushden and Higham Ferrers to go along for the start of the race at Rushden’s Hall Park, where they will be able to enjoy the race build-up and then take part in a duathlon event with running and cycling.
Younger children from local pre-schools will also be invited along for a teddy bears picnic in the walled garden of Hall Park.
Other fun and games will be on offer at the park on the day and Joe said: “We are expecting about 500 kids at Hall Park.”
This will be the first time the Women’s Tour has come to Rushden, and Joe is hoping that youngsters as well as adults will be inspired by the ‘unique’ sporting event coming to their town.