Sunday, 1 December 2013

National Cycle Tour Starts in Oundle (The Oundle Chronicle)

Oundle has been chosen as the location for the Grand Depart of the first ever Women’s Cycle Tour of Britain. Heather Smith, a Northamptonshire County Councillor, played a key-role in securing this privilege for Oundle. She said: “We are very excited that Northamptonshire has been chosen to host the first stage of The Women’s Tour. This is an opportunity to showcase our beautiful county to the rest of the world, as well as promote cycling and women’s sport locally, and will be the start of a summer of cycling events.”

The inaugural event has been given the top status possible by cycling’s governing body, the UCI. British Cycling’s director of Cyclesport Jonny Clay said: “We worked with SweetSpot to identify the best calendar slot and lobbied the UCI for the highest category a start up event could attain. The fact that the event has been granted 2.1 status, putting it in the top echelon of races, is welcome news.”

Top female cyclists from all over will be flocking to Oundle next May, and Mayor George Higgins says that he is determined to make them feel welcome. The fact that the race has a 2.1 status means that it will attract a significant number of leading riders.

The race will begin in Oundle on 7 May, and will be based entirely in Northamptonshire. It will consist of five stages, and will end on the 11 May, with the exact route yet to be decided. Guy Elliott, director of event organiser SweetSpot, said that Northamptonshire “is a fantastic county for racing.” The Women’s Tour is the first major tour that has ever been hosted in Northamptonshire. It is anticipated to be “a fantastic addition to the British racing calendar.”

George Higgins was one of many who pushed for Oundle to be the start of the race, and is extremely proud that we have been chosen. He said: ‘The picturesque surroundings of our historic town will provide a stunning backdrop to the Grand Depart for cyclists and supporters alike. We are also planning to organise an exciting programme of activities to celebrate this significant event.”

Camilla Sherwin, the coordinator of the local environmental group Transition Oundle, and also part of Oundle-On Your Bike!, told the Chronicle: “Over the past two years, Transition Oundle has been promoting cycling as a healthy, efficient, low cost and low carbon form of local transport for people of all abilities through our Oundle-On Your Bike! project. Whilst we cannot all be elite athletes, the Grand Depart of the Women’s Tour will raise the profile of cycling in the area and hopefully encourage more people to switch to pedal power."

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