Banbury residents will welcome the world’s best cyclists when the town hosts the finish of this year’s opening Women’s Tour stage on Monday 4 October it was announced today.
Published: Thursday, 18th March 2021
The Women’s Tour is Britain’s longest-running professional female cycle race and part of the prestigious UCI Women’s World Tour series. The opening stage will be flagged off in Bicester – announced previously – with the riders then racing across the county to the finish in Banbury.
Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Having the start and finish of the first leg of the Women’s Tour in Cherwell is a real honour. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase what our wonderful district has to offer and we look forward to welcoming the riders, teams and fans for the race this autumn.”
This is the second year that Oxfordshire will host the Women’s Tour. The county council and district and city councils are working in partnership with race organisers SweetSpot to deliver the event as part of a three-year commitment, which began in 2019. Different routes are planned each year to showcase the county’s diversity to a national and international audience.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Women’s Tour back to Oxfordshire, inspiring more people to get their bikes out of the shed. Over the last year, we have seen more and more residents cycling. We hope by welcoming back the race, even more people will take to two-wheels, the healthy transport option. The benefits of cycling for personal health cannot be overstated, along with reducing congestion on our roads. Oxfordshire is the perfect backdrop for this race, and we look forward to showing off the county at its best.”
Cycling fans are expected to visit Oxfordshire to watch the event, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels and shops along the route.
Councillor Kieron Mallon, Leader of Banbury Town Council, said: “Banbury is a vibrant market town, attracting visitors from miles around. Fans of the Women’s Tour can expect more than just an exciting finish to the grand depart. With our great mix of history and hospitality, you’ll come for the race and stay for the experiences Banbury has to offer!”
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.
Ila Pearson, from Banbury Star Cyclists's Club, said: “It’s so exciting to have a world class cycling event coming to Banbury. Our club is thriving, with women, men and youngsters all well represented. I have no doubt that the Women’s Tour will inspire others back onto their bikes and they would be very welcome to join us at Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club.”
Belgian rider and Olympic medalist, Jolien D’hoore, won the race’s first-ever Oxfordshire stage two years ago, which was held between Henley-on-Thames and Blenheim Palace. Over 53,000 spectators watched the action unfold from the roadside.
Mick Bennett, Women’s Tour Race Director, said: “After the incredible welcome the Women’s Tour received upon its first visit to Oxfordshire in 2019, I have no doubt that we’re in for more of the same come our return to the county in October. The battle to win the opening stage of the race has historically been fierce – everybody in Banbury should know that they’re guaranteed an unforgettable show, all courtesy of these world-class athletes who never fail to light up the Women’s Tour!”
Further details of this year’s the Women’s Tour, including the full race route and competing teams, will be released in the summer.