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Bicester revealed as start location for prestigious women’s cycling race

BICESTER is to host the start of the prestigious Women’s Tour professional cycling race, which will pedal from the town on Monday 08 June, it was announced today (Thursday, 13 February).

Oxfordshire pro-cyclist, Katie Scott, joined community cycling groups and local children from Bicester’s Longfields Primary School and The Cooper School (secondary); at the official announcement in the town’s Garth Park. Katie, 18, is a CAMS–Tifosi team rider, from Faringdon; she hopes to be one of around 100 women taking part in the gruelling six-stage tour later this summer.

This is the second year that Oxfordshire will host the Women’s Tour. The district councils, Oxford City, and County Council are working in partnership with race organisers Sweet-Spot to deliver the event, in 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.

This year, the county will host the prestigious opening stage, with Bicester having the honour of starting the race.

Cycling fans are expected to visit Oxfordshire to watch the event, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels, B&Bs and shops along the route.

After leaving Bicester, 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.

Photo - The Womens Tour - BICESTER 01

Photo: Oxfordshire pro-cyclist Katie Scott (left) joined… Bicester Mayor, Jason Slaymaker; Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council; Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council; Councillor Richard Mould, Chairman of Policy Committee, Bicester Town Council,  and local dignitaries and residents at Bicester’s Garth Park to announce the prestigious Women’s Tour professional cycling race will start from the town on Monday 08 June

Last year’s race has already created a lasting health legacy for Oxfordshire. The County Council has been working in partnership with Active Oxfordshire, TRAX, British Cycling and Thames Valley Police to refurbish ‘waste’ bikes for young people facing barriers to cycling.

In October, ten Oxfordshire women received British Cycling Breeze Champion training, giving them skills and knowledge to lead social bike rides in their communities. This was funded by Oxfordshire County Council, Public Health and Active Oxfordshire. There will be guided rides for women in the lead up to this year’s Tour.

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. The benefits of cycling for personal health cannot be over stated, 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.”

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Bicester is the ideal start for this year’s Women’s Tour and I have no doubt the riders will receive a great send off. As a Healthy New Town, cycling already plays an important role, with residents encouraged onto two wheels through free bike servicing schemes and involvement in community cycling clubs. We know it can help towards both physical and mental wellbeing and by bringing some of the world’s top riders to Bicester, we hope to inspire even more people to get into cycling.”

Councillor Richard Mould, Chairman of Policy Committee, Bicester Town Council, said: “This is exciting news for the whole of Bicester. In an Olympic year, sport is already high on the agenda and to be able to watch the world’s top riders racing through our streets will be a real treat. With more visitors expected in the town, the launch is also an opportunity for local traders to receive a welcome boost for their business.”

Councillor Michele Mead, Cabinet Member for Health and Leisure, West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This is a fantastic event on so many levels as it promotes the growing interest in women’s sport as well as fitness and good health generally.

“The Tour will also engage schools and young people as well as boosting tourism and of course it also makes for a great family day out.”

Councillor Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Last year the race started in Henley and I am pleased to see that areas of South Oxfordshire will be represented again in such a high-profile event. Not only is this a fantastic opportunity to promote cycling as a way of keeping fit but also a greener way of getting around. Last year was so much fun, I’m really looking forward to cheering on the riders and seeing many more of our residents out on their bikes”

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “It is great to see this year’s route going through the Vale. This is a great opportunity for people to get involved in this prestigious race as it passes through our towns and villages. I’m also excited to be able to cheer on Katie Scott who is from Faringdon and I wish her all the best for the race.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Healthy Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “We have huge numbers of cycling fans and cycling clubs in Oxfordshire who will be thrilled to have elite cyclists racing through the county. When I first contacted the Women’s Tour of Britain, it was beyond even my most optimistic dreams that Oxfordshire would sign a three-year deal with them. It’s generating a lot of excitement and we are planning to ensure that it leaves a positive legacy in our schools, health and communities.

“I hope that this will also be an opportunity to inspire people, especially women and girls, to try cycling. It’s the healthiest, most environmentally-friendly and enjoyable way to get around Oxford!”

Penny Rinta-Suksi, partner of Oxfordshire-stage sponsor Blake Morgan, said: “We are so proud to sponsor such a great initiative that brings people together to celebrate the achievements of elite sportswomen and help promote the sport. Not only is it proven to benefit health and wellbeing, cycling also helps reduce our environmental impact, tackle road congestion and boost workplace productivity. We look forward to joining other local businesses and residents to cheer on competitors as they cycle through Oxfordshire.”

Rod Noble, Area Community Sport Manager from Oxfordshire-stage sponsor GLL, said: “The health legacy vision of the Women’s Tour reflects our ambition to make community services and spaces better for everyone. This is part of our commitment to a healthy Oxfordshire.”

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

Commenting on the announcement, the Women’s Tour Race Director Mick Bennett, said: “Oxfordshire is a historic and world-famous county; therefore, I am delighted that the Tour is returning for a second year. I’m confident we’ll leave our world-class field with a truly unforgettable memory of the county’s beauty and diversity, helping to reinforce the prestige of the event.”

Further details of this year’s the Women’s Tour, including the full race route and competing teams, will be released in the coming weeks.

Photo - the Women Tour - climb action