Women’s Tour cycling race is flagged off in Chipping Norton on Saturday - watch the action near Banbury

Cycling enthusiasts will be able to cheer on elite riders this weekend when this year’s Women’s Tour professional cycling kicks off in Chipping Norton.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 6th June 2022, 9:36 am
Marta Bastianelli celebrates winning stage one of the AJ Bell Women's Tour of Britain in Banbury in 2021
Marta Bastianelli celebrates winning stage one of the AJ Bell Women's Tour of Britain in Banbury in 2021

Saturday’s race comes close to Banbury – and spectators will be able to see the action as it goes through Milcombe.

Hosted for the third consecutive time by Oxfordshire County Council, and the county’s city and district councils, Oxfordshire is the venue for the final stage of this year’s six stage race.

Riders will be flagged off in Chipping Norton’s High Street at 11am on a 90-mile route to the finish along Oxford’s historic St Giles’ at around 3pm.

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Watch the action of the Women's Tour cycle race between Chipping Norton and Milcombe this Saturday

The route will pass through many picture-postcard locations, including taking in one of Britain’s most loved areas, the Cotswolds. It will head as far north as Milcombe – a short distance from Banbury where Italian rider Marta Bastianelli triumphed in the 2021 race – before changing course and travelling south through West Oxfordshire towards RAF Brize Norton in Carterton.

Stage six will also visit Faringdon, Wantage and Abingdon in the Vale of White Horse; and Didcot and Wallingford in South Oxfordshire, where a large section of the route will follow the stunning scenery of the North Wessex Downs. Those watching at Burcot will have the thrill of welcoming riders for the final sprint of this year’s tour, which is estimated at around 2.25pm.

Riders will cross the River Thames using the Folly Bridge as the race enters Oxford from its south side. In what promises to be a truly stunning end to the 2022 race, the stage will finish on the historic St Giles’ around 3pm.

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The Women’s Tour is a fantastic way to showcase our wonderful county to the world. I’m confident this event will support and raise awareness of cycling and its benefits, as well as bring an economic boost to our communities – so important as businesses recover from the pandemic. Hosting this prestigious race for a third time is a great collaborative effort between the county council and our local authority colleagues.”

The route of the Women's Tour through Oxfordshire this Saturday

There will be rolling road closures from 11am at the race start area in Chipping Norton, controlled by police and route marshals, which will then continue along the route. This will involve highways and junctions, with access roads onto the route, closing for short periods while the race passes through. The length of closure depends on how dispersed the riders are.

Road closure locations along the route, with predicted race timings, are listed in full on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

Oxfordshire is expecting economic and health benefits from hosting the prestigious event, with cycling fans expected to visit the county to watch the race, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels, B&Bs and shops.

Over 100 professional riders will weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas, and it is hoped that local schools will be inspired to organise themed sport and fitness lessons.

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 Andy Graham, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It’s fantastic to have such a prestigious race taking place in our district and it’s a great honour for Chipping Norton to be hosting the start of the race. We hope the Women’s Tour will leave a positive legacy with more people getting into cycling and making the most of our beautiful countryside in West Oxfordshire.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport at Oxford City Council, said: “Oxford is extraordinarily beautiful, one of the most scenic cities in the world. As these amazing women ride through the city to a well-deserved hero’s welcome at St Giles’, they will see many of the things that make Oxford such a special place, from the first park and ride in the country to the ancient University colleges that have produced so many world-beating athletes.

“We hope to create a really festive atmosphere to celebrate the Women’s Tour ending in Oxford and will have lots of fun activities to keep the crowd entertained as they wait for the nail-biting finish.”

Councillor Eric de la Harpe, Cycling Champion at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m very proud that we’ve been able to bring The Women’s Tour to Oxfordshire and I’m really excited to see a fantastic finale on 11 June. Like many sports, cycling can be seen as quite a male dominated environment, but events like this can really help to encourage a new generation of female cyclists. Across the county we are seeing many more residents join our growing cycling community and the Women’s Tour has played a real part in inspiring people to get on their bike, whether that’s to get around the local area, to improve health and fitness, or more seriously as part of a cycling club.”

Councillor Phil Chapman, Cherwell District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Healthy Communities, said: “Watching a world class bike race is a truly thrilling experience and one I definitely recommend to anyone who’s not seen one before. It’s a privilege to once again be supporting the Women’s Tour and have it pass through our district for local people and visitors to enjoy.”

Created by SweetSpot Group in 2014, the Women’s Tour is the UK’s first international stage race for women, bringing the world’s top riders to compete in Great Britain as a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour.

The race, which has been won by the likes of Marianne Vos (2014), Lizzie Deignan (2016, 2019) and Demi Vollering (2021), attracts an annual roadside audience of 300,000, as well as over three million fans through linear and online platforms.

Follow the Women’s Tour on Twitter (#WomensTour), Facebook, and Instagram or via the event’s official website at womenstour.co.uk.