The 2017 Women’s Tour route has been announced, with a final stage in central London which organisers hope will draw crowds from far and wide.
The five day event will take place between 7 and 11 June, with stages in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and Derbyshire, as well as the London finish.
Now in its fourth edition, the event has attracted the support of Breast Cancer Care, who will sponsor the race to celebrate 25 years of the ‘pink ribbon’. A sponsor for the Yellow Jersey worn by the leader, however, is still being sought.
The race will kick off on Wednesday 7 June, in Northamptonshire – for a stage between Daventry and Kettering. On day two, riders will travel to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent before heading to Warwichshire for a stage between Atherstone and Royal Leamington Spa.
The penultimate stage will start and finish in Chesterfield, and will be the day that features the most climbing – before the flat circuit race in London.
In total, 17 teams will be represented at the event, including every one of the world’s top 15. The race is well loved within the women’s pro peloton, and it’s also been included in the UCI Women’s World Tour for a second year.
Organiser Mick Bennett commented: "Having the Mayor of London invite us to London for the final stage of The Women's Tour shows the status of the event, that just three years on from its creation it can be a part of the UCI Women's WorldTour and feature all of the world's top 15 teams."
He added: “This year's route will combine testing climbs and beautiful scenery in the heart of England with the London finish, which will be an undoubted highlight of the sporting calendar."
Earlier stages of the race will feature plenty of climbing – particularly on the penultimate day - as requested by riders following the 2015 race. The London stage will take place over 14 laps of a 6km circuit, also used the men’s Tour of Britain. The loop starts and finishes on Regent Street St James, and features Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall on every lap.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: "I'm really excited that the most prestigious women's cycling race in the world is coming to the streets of central London for the first time.
"Londoners will be able to see their Olympic heroes and the world's top riders competing up close, reviving the excitement we all felt during the Olympics. The race shows our continuing commitment to London hosting the very best sporting events in world."
To celebrate their support of the race, Breast Cancer Care have reserved 1,000 places for women to ride their ‘Pink Ribbon Tour’, covering 25km of the circuit, whilst raising money for the charity.
Many host towns have been repeated, but with the race gaining such a prestigious reputation for enthusiastic spectators, why not? Mick Bennett commented: "Counties such as Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire have embraced The Women's Tour, so this year's edition will see yet more of the huge roadside crowds cheering on the world's best."
Riding for British outfit, Team WNT, Team Pursuit Olympic Champion Katie Archibald will hope to ride the event in June. She commented: "The race being hosted by London is a fantastic opportunity for women's cycling and shows how far the sport has grown over the past couple of years. I'm excited but also nervous about the opportunity to ride The Women's Tour since it's one of the most competitive stage races on the women's UCI calendar. Riding for Team WNT I hope to make an impact on the road scene after a change of focus from an enjoyable track season in 2016"
A Yellow Jersey Sponsor Still Being Sought
Whist Breast Cancer Care will support the race, a title sponsor for the Yellow Jersey remains elusive. Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of race organisers SweetSpot Group said:“After three editions The Women's Tour continues to grow and go from strength-to-strength, but to take the event on to the next level we are seeking a title partner to cement our position as the world's leading women's race."
The other rider jerseys have been snapped up, with Wiggle supporting the Points Jersey, Adnans the Best British Rider and Eisberg the Sprinters Jersey. The Queen of the Mountains Jersey sponsor will be announced in the coming days.
Hour long highlights will be broadcast each day in ITV4, and they’ll also be available on demand via the ITV Hub.
Read more about previous editions at our Women's Tour hub, here.