Women’s tour begins, visiting region today

Mark Westley Photography'Womens Tour teams meet their mascots at the pre tour evening at the Arc  shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds.'Westgate Primary, again, with team Wiggle Honda ANL-150617-071016009
Mark Westley Photography'Womens Tour teams meet their mascots at the pre tour evening at the Arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds.'Westgate Primary, again, with team Wiggle Honda ANL-150617-071016009

Thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets for the second stage of the Women’s Tour today.

The race passes through Sudbury, Hadleigh and numerous other communities in the district with roads closed as the asphalt is taken over by pedal power, with 16 teams taking on the 138km route from Braintree to Clacton.

The grand depart took place in Bury St Edmunds yesterday for the first stage, finishing in Aldeburgh.

Large crowds gathered on Angel Hill to witness sporting history, just as they had done last year, when Bury was the finish line for the final stage.

Soprano, sports ambassador and keen cyclist Laura Wright was first at the start line, setting off at 8am to lead the first stage of the five-day Women’s Tour.

On Tuesday night, Wright got crowds warmed up in Charter Square, where she closed her set with a powerful and emotive performance of Invincible, the song she wrote for Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.

Each of the tour’s 16 international teams were then welcomed to the stage, where, one by one, they were presented with ‘good luck’ banners by children from the town’s primary schools.

Yesterday morning the sun was shining as more spectators arrived to find the perfect spot from which to watch the momentous race, many sporting yellow caps and flags in support of the action.

Kevin Rush’s partner, Naomi Bond, was one of the riders to take part in the pre-race ride out.

Mr Rush, from Sudbury, said: “The event was brilliant. There was a brilliant atmosphere and it’s great for the county. It’s over within second though, isn’t it?”

Peter Osborne, from Long Melford said: “Anything that brings a bit of visibility to the region has to be good.

“It gives it a buzz and is nice to see,” he added.

His wife, Gill, said: “There was a lovely atmosphere, a really lovely atmosphere.”

“It was well organised too,” she added.

With flags waving and crowds cheering, the cyclists set off for Westgate Street and started on a loop through the town which took them to out to Moreton Hall on their way to Thurston.

Hundreds of spectators turned out at the roadside and schools along the route also allowed their pupils to join in the celebrations.

Today the tour is expected to arrive at Halstead at 10.20am, going through Sible Hedingham, Castle Hedingham, Great Yeldham, Belchamp St Paul, before reaching Sudbury at around 11.02am.

The race then moves on to Newton and Boxford before reaching Hadleigh at around 11.40am before leaving the district. The race ends in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday. For more visit www.womenstour.co.uk/.