Anticipation hung in the air as riders assembled in Bury St Edmunds ahead of the first stage of the Women’s Tour today.
Stage One kicks off at the leisurely time of 11am tomorrow (on Wednesday morning), and will be a fast and furious flat strange, likely to end in a bunch sprint on the sea front in Aldeburgh.
Speaking ahead of the race, Dame Sarah Storey, who will be leading Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International told us: “We’ve ridden a couple of stages, today and yesterday. Tomorrow’s course is pretty straightforward, a few little wiggley bits along the sea front.
“By the time you get to Alderburgh the run in to the finish is a long road, very straight, a significant distance, so though it’s not technical in any way, the weather and the wind on the sea front will potentially play a part, depending how strong the teams are.”
The sixteen teams riding at the Women’s Tour include twelve of the world’s top thirteen teams, and Dame Sarah said there was not particular roster on her radar – explaining: “We’ve got some of the best women’s teams in the world here, SRAM are team Time Trial World champions, and have the World Time Trial champion in their midst… and the Rabo Liv team… there are some huge names in there.
“Everyone’s going to be going for it, and there’s a lot of British riders, obviously Lizzie Armitstead’s been on fine form and her Boels Dolmans team is going to be working really hard to keep her in the front.”
The team’s own strategy will be decided day by day – she said: “We’ll get together with the team tonight and work out what the plan of attack for the stage is, then we’ll plan the next day after tomorrow’s stage, and so on.”
She added: “We’ll take it day by day, Stage 5 looks to be the hilliest, which from my perspective is good, I’m a fan of the hills. It’s important during a stage race not to look too far ahead.”
We’ll be following the Tour throughout the week – keep an eye on our Twitter feed for live race updates.