Oxfordshire to get business and community boost from major women’s cycle race

Oxfordshire is expecting economic and health benefits from hosting the prestigious OVO Energy Women’s Tour professional cycling race, which will pedal through the county on Wednesday, June 12, it was announced today (Wednesday, March 20).

Published: Wednesday, 20th March 2019

A stage of the high-profile British cycling event has been secured for Oxfordshire by the county council and five districts in a three-year deal with the race organisers SweetSpot. They expect cycling fans to visit Oxfordshire to watch the race, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels, B&Bs and shops.

In a comparable stage in last year’s race in Warwickshire, additional local expenditure linked directly to the event totalled £2m by around 100,000 spectators. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) came from outside the county and 67 per cent of spectators said they were inspired to cycle more often.

The race will start in South Oxfordshire and end at one of the county’s most iconic locations, Blenheim Palace, with large crowds expected to cheer the winner over the line. Details of the exact route, which will pass through the Vale of White Horse and West Oxfordshire, will be revealed in coming weeks.

About 100 professional riders will weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas, inspiring local schools to organise themed sport and fitness lessons. Highlights of the race will also be screened on ITV4.

Families are expected to line the route to cheer on competitors, turning the event into an exciting community spectacle. Spectators will be encouraged to use healthy and environmentally-friendly transport to reach vantage points to watch the race.

Councillor Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “The Women’s Tour is going to be a thrilling display of endeavour and endurance by some of the world’s best athletes. The whole county will be there to cheer them on, as an inspiration to all of us to increase our activity levels. Lots of work will be ongoing between Oxfordshire councils and their partners in the coming years to make these three events a massive success and secure the benefits they will bring for the whole county.”

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Women’s Tour to Oxfordshire because it will bring an enormous economic boost to our thriving communities, inspiring more people to get their bikes out of the shed. Oxfordshire is the perfect backdrop for this race and we look forward to showing off the county at its best.”

The OVO Energy Women’s Tour is Britain’s longest-running professional women’s race and part of the prestigious UCI Women’s World Tour series.

Thanks to title sponsor OVO Energy, the award-winning independent energy supplier, the event will once again back a prize fund equal to that of the men’s Tour of Britain for the second year running.

Commenting on the announcement, OVO Energy Women’s Tour Race Director Mick Bennett, said: “Oxfordshire is a historic and world-famous county; therefore, I am looking forward to the Tour visiting there over the coming years. To have our 2019 stage – the first ever to take place in Oxfordshire – finish in the grounds of the stunning Blenheim Palace will provide the most incredible backdrop; and leave our world-class field with a truly unforgettable memory and reinforce the prestige of the event."

The 2019 OVO Energy Women’s Tour will begin in Suffolk with Stage One from Beccles to Stowmarket on Monday 10 June. Further details of this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour, including the full race route and competing teams, will be released in the coming weeks.