The world’s best female cyclists will be venturing into Banburyshire as part of the 2018 Women’s Tour next week.
Two stages of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour 2018 come close to Banbury with three peaks for the riders to overcome.
And in September, the leading men’s cyclists will also be passing through our area as part of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
Race director Mick Bennett said: “We are delighted to be bringing the men’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain to Warwickshire for the first time in the history of the modern race.
“The support we receive in the county for the Women’s Tour is tremendous, and we know that the world’s top male riders can expect more of the same this September.”
During the second stage of the Women’s Tour on Thursday, June 14, the racers will pass through south Northamptonshire villages, including Woodford Halse, with a Queen of the Mountains contest between Weston and Culworth.
For stage three on the following day, south Warwickshire will see plenty of action as the cyclists head south from Wellesbourne to Shipston down the Fosse Way, before heading east through Lower Brailes, then north through the Tysoes to Kineton.
Then the riders face two steep climbs – first Edge Hill, which is classed as category two, and then Burton Dassett, a cat three hil – before going north towards Southam.
Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe tackled Edge Hill with world endurance cycle record holder James Golding ahead of the Women’s Tour.
“I had a great deal of help from James and my bike but cycling up Edge Hill certainly made me realise just how fit the women athletes have to be to complete five stages in successive days without the assistance I had,” she said.
“It also underlined a couple of other important factors. Firstly, just how magnificent the countryside in Warwickshire is, and why the organisers were keen to return here, because the views were stunning.”
The county council has worked with tour organisers SweetSpot to bring the event back to the area so Cllr Seccombe thought she should experience some of the bumpier sections of the ride for herself.
James lent her a state-of-the-art electric-assist bike for the trip and accompanied her on the road bike.
After making it to the top, Cllr Seccombe, who admitted to not having ridden a bike for “some time”, said she could understand what the 102 competitors will go through.
Cllr Seccombe also noted the impact that hosting a stage of the tour had on the local economy as she urged local people to come out and support the event.
“When we first held a stage two years ago it made a £2m impact to the local economy and we hope that will be higher this year,” she said.
“The stage will be viewed in more than 100 countries across the world and will be a great showcase for the assets we have.”
For the Tour of Britain later this year, the world’s leading cyclists will set off from Nuneaton on stage four on September 5, and travel south, taking in Edge Hill and Burton Dassett, to finish in Leamington Spa.
Organisers are hoping for record crowds when the event comes to the region.
Cllr Seccombe said: “This is a massive coup for Nuneaton and the whole of Warwickshire to be hosting a stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain and it is very exciting news.
“Once again an event like this shines a global spotlight on Nuneaton and the all of the county, which is extremely positive for everyone.
“The county council and our partners have great ambitions for Nuneaton and this kind of international profile is an excellent kickstart for that programme of works.”
In past events global cycling stars such as Alexander Kristoff and Michal Kwiatkowski, British heroes Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas or rising stars like Chris Lawless and Harry Tanfield, have competed in the Tour of Britain.
For more information about the Women’s Tour, visit www.womenstour.co.uk, and for the Tour of Britain, go to www.tourofbritain.co.uk.