It was just shy of 10 years ago, back in 2004 that saw the first men’s Tour of Britain, but you can delve even further into the history books, back to the 1940’s to find one of the first recorded men’s stage races in the UK. Despite the relatively long history of men’s stage races, the women’s equivalent is largely unchartered territory, but with the massive success of British cyclists it is no surprise that demand had risen and more attention has been afforded. Despite how new and unknown this event is, many top athletes have allocated a large chunk of their seasons periodisation plan to winning this. Armitstead is a massive home favourite for the tour, particularly as she openly announced that she will be allocating at least half a season to training for this event. This sort of commitment goes some way to validating the 58 mile initial stage that rolls out of Oundle this morning!
Why The East Midlands and East Anglia?
The route is based in the East Midlands and East Anglia because of the low number of transfers needed and because the location is comparatively easy to reach. This also balances things out somewhat seeing as Yorkshire hosts the Tour de France (even though a stage of the great race still passes through our hometown of Braintree). The route is relatively flat with appropriate stages for sprinters, but teams are restricted to just 6 making it a little trickier to govern and get right. The two favourites to take the title are Lizzie Armitstead and Marianne Vos, both of which have the pedigree to win any race they commit to.
The Route and Stages
The race will take the riders through the counties of Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk over the course of the 5 days.
Wednesday 7th May = Oundle to Northampton
Thursday 8th May = Hinxkley to Bedford
Friday 9th May = Felixstowe to Clacton
Saturday 10th May = Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City
Sunday 11th May = Harwich to Bury St Edmunds
Despite some UCL legislative matters that compelled the organisers to invite the top-10 trade teams and the top- 5 national teams and even teams that aren’t in the top 10, the quality of athletes is about as good as it could be. The UK representation is top draw, with almost every top road cyclist the UK has to offer. This said, the Guardian alluded to the sidelining of Olympic track champion Joanna Rowsell who was forced to withdraw because of illness. Otherwise, whoever takes the crown at the end of the 5 days can safely say they are the best, the quality of the field dictates it!
We watch for the outcome of events with great anticipation, albeit from our office chairs…Good luck to all the riders!
The Friends Life Women’s Tour 2014, (2014). Stage by stage guide. Retrieved 7th May, 2014, from http://www.womenstour.co.uk/home.php#.U2oDBPldVCr
theguardian, (2014). Talking Sport. Women's Tour of Britain ready to hit the heights on cycling calendar. Retrieved 7th May, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2014/may/06/womens-tour-britain-first-oundle-northamptonshire